Tuipulotu can be world's best, says Wales head coach Cunningham

·3-min read
Tuipulotu has made the switch to tighthead prop having previously played at lock
Tuipulotu has made the switch to tighthead prop having previously played at lock

Ioan Cunningham has backed Sisilia Tuipulotu to build on her Player of the Match performance against Ireland and become ‘one of the best props in the world’.

Tuipulotu was as influential in attack as she was in defence in Wales’ TikTok Women’s Six Nations opener, crossing for her side’s fifth and final try in the 31-5 win.

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The 19-year-old Gloucester-Hartpury forward has made the switch to the front row from lock and looked at home, missing only one tackle as Wales gave their best-ever crowd at Cardiff Arms Park plenty to cheer.

“I genuinely believe she can be one of the best props in the world,” Cunningham said. “She really showed what she can do.

“Gwenllian [Pyrs] and Kelsey [Jones] were outstanding as well, big up to the front row.

“Up front, we had a great platform. We are delighted with the crowd, that gives us such a boost here.

“We’re chuffed with the game plan and we stuck at it.”

Tuipulotu made nine carries, the most of any Wales player, and insisted she is not interested in any other position following her seamless transition into the front row.

“I am always going to wear this shirt, this is the only shirt I want to wear!” she said.

“It is always a tough process to transition from one position to another position.

“But with the coaches that I have and the support that I have, I am enjoying it more and more now.”

Tuipulotu's star turn came to an end after 61 minutes as she was replaced by Cerys Hale but it was enough to see her claim the Player of the Match award in a match which saw Wales secure the bonus point inside 32 minutes.

Alex Callender crossed after only three minutes, before Keira Bevan converted her own try and replacement Sioned Harries’ score after she came on for the injured Gwen Crabb inside six minutes.

Captain Hannah Jones’ try sealed the bonus point as Wales took a 26-0 lead into half-time, with Ireland needing to regroup.

Tuipulotu gave them no time to do that after the half, crossing on 45 minutes to celebrate her first Test start at tighthead prop in style.

She added: “There are no words that can explain the way I am feeling right now, I am just grateful for the team that I have.

“I am also grateful to my family and friends for always supporting me on the field and off the field.”

Wales travel to Edinburgh to take on Scotland next week while Ireland will play in front of a home crowd for the first time this Championship as they welcome France.

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