Martin Taupau says Manly's forward pack is prepared to go "toe to toe" with Canterbury's big men.
Taupau will make his Sea Eagles debut when Manly host Canterbury on Friday night. He will lead a Manly pack alongside Nate Myles and Jake Trbojevic and said his side was ready to take on the challenge of Canterbury's forceful forwards including James Graham, Tony Williams, Sam Kasiano, Josh Jackson and Aiden Tolman.
"It's been a very physical pre-season," Taupau said. "We have prepared ourselves physically and mentally to go toe to toe with the big guys.
"We know individually that we have to do everything as a group.
"It's good to see where everyone is at. It'll be a solid first hit out. Despite a few suspensions and injuries that both teams have it'll be a very exciting game."
Taupau had been forced to carry the bulk of the workload alongside Aaron Woods in his two seasons at the Tigers before joining Manly. The Kiwi international said sharing the load will help take his game to another level.
"Nate Myles and Jake Trbojevic have a high workrate," Taupau said. "They can help out with my game. There's a lot of players that will do their job. Everything else will fall into place."
Aside from his teammates in the forwards, Taupau is also surrounded by some genuine strike power including Daly Cherry-Evans, Brett Stewart and Dylan Walker.
He heads into 2016 with a different mindset as he looks to play finals football for the first time since making his NRL debut in 2010.
"A few things were happening at the Tigers but in saying that it didn't affect the playing group, just the individuals involved," Taupau said. "I've settled in really well. [Coach] Trent Barrett has welcomed me with open arms, it's exciting. The structure and the football is very exciting. There is a whole new vibe.
"The excitement comes from playing alongside superstars. That's the reason why I find it very exciting. A whole new club and direction."
Having made his mark as an explosive player, Taupau has prepared differently this pre-season because of the reduction in interchange and the introduction of a shot clock. The 26-year-old said he needed to pace himself better during matches.
"I've been doing a lot of cardio," Taupau said. "It's always going to be a fast game and I'm ready for it. I'm still doing my strength training and building my base there.
"It's all about timing. I have to manage it. I don't want to go too hard too fast because you will blow yourself out and you won't last. For me it's about moderating how much energy I exert."
By: Michael Carayannis
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