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Sekope Kepu (born 5 February 1986) is an Australian professional rugby union player. He is a Prop for the New South Wales Waratahs and has previously played for French club Bordeaux.[2][5] He also plays for Australia's Wallabies in international matches. Kepu made his international debut for Australia in 2008 and has been a regular in match-day squads ever since, having played over 100 tests for Australia since his debut. Kepu is the most-capped Prop to ever play for the Wallabies is also one of the most-capped rugby players in history.

Sekope Kepu
Sekope Kepu 2017.jpg
Kepu playing for the Wallabies against Italy, 24 June 2017
Birth nameSekope Miami Kepu[1]
Date of birth (1986-02-05) 5 February 1986 (age 33)
Place of birthSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Height188 cm (6 ft 2 in)[2]
Weight125 kg (276 lb; 19 st 10 lb)[3]
Rugby union career
Position(s) Tighthead Prop
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2014
2015−2016
NSW Country Eagles
Bordeaux
0
19
(0)
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
2005–07 Counties Manukau 7 (0)
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
2008– NSW Waratahs 97 (10)
Correct as of 28 June 2015
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2008–
2008
2006
2004–05
2003
Wallabies
Australia A
New Zealand U21
New Zealand U19
New Zealand U17[4]
106 (20)
Correct as of 19 September 2019

Early lifeEdit

Kepu was born in Sydney, Australia, to Tongan parents, but his family relocated to Auckland while he was still a youngster. He began playing rugby with Tamaki Rugby Football Club Under 7s and attended school in the suburb of Glen Innes in Auckland.[6]

Kepu captained the Wesley College first XV from the number eight position in 2004 before switching to the front row with the New Zealand under-19s in 2005.[7] He represented New Zealand at under 17, 19 and 21 levels.[5]

Rugby Union CareerEdit

Between 2005 and 2007, Kepu was a member of the wider training group for the Chiefs, and was a stand out player for Counties Manukau in the Air New Zealand Cup in 2006. A broken collarbone ruined his 2007 season and saw him end the year without a Super 14 contract.[citation needed]

Kepu moved to back Sydney at the age of 21 to play for the NSW Waratahs. He made his Super Rugby debut on 1 March 2008 against the Highlanders in Dunedin, playing as the starting loosehead after Wallabies prop Al Baxter was ruled out due to a head knock.[5]

In June 2008, Kepu played for Australia A in the 2008 Pacific Nations Cup.[8] He was selected for the Wallabies on the 2008 and 2009 Spring tours, and made his test debut for Australia on 8 November 2008, against Italy at Padova. He gained two more tests caps from the bench on those tours but then had to bide his time for more than a year before making another test appearance.[1]

Kepu had a strong season at the Waratahs in 2011 with 13 Super Rugby appearances, including 12 starts.[9]

In the 2011 Tri Nations Series, Kepu became the first choice loosehead prop for the Wallabies after Benn Robinson was ruled out of the entire campaign due to a knee injury. He started in all four tests and cemented his position. Australia won the 2011 Tri Nations cup.

Kepu was a key player for Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, starting in six out of seven matches that the Wallabies played in the tournament.[1]

In March 2013, he re-signed with Australian Rugby to commit to the Wallabies and Waratahs for a further two years. Kepu has also been playing at tighthead prop rather than loosehead for the Wallabies since then.[10] Kepu's re-signing saw him go on to start in all three knockout rounds of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but his ill-discipline was one of the unfortunate highlights of the final against New Zealand, on 31 October 2015, which Australia lost 17-34.

Kepu's third Super Rugby try against the Chiefs in Round 15 of 2017 was well received by the press. After an excellent 2017 season and being one of the best-performing Wallabies of the year, Kepu unfortunately, during his 90th test, ended the season in disappointment, being red-carded against Scotland on 25 November 2017. Kepu was red-carded against Scotland in the 39th minute of the test for shoulder-charging Scottish flanker Hamish Watson's head, with Australia leading 12-10 against Scotland at the time. Australia failed to perform well with Kepu off the field, losing 53-24 to Scotland. Kepu became the second Wallaby to be sent off in the current decade, with teammate Tevita Kuridrani being sent off in 2013.

In October 2018, Kepu became the first prop to make 100 appearances for Australia, appearing against New Zealand in an eventual 37-20 loss.[11]

On Monday 6 May 2019, it was announced the he signed for London Irish in the Gallagher Premiership.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Sekope Kepu ARU Profile". ARU. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Sekope Kepu Waratahs Profile". NSWRU. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  3. ^ http://www.rugby.com.au/wallabies/TheTeam/WallabiesProfiles/ProfilePage/tabid/1513/playerid/81/Default.aspx
  4. ^ "Sekope Kepu". Scrum.com. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Warren, Adrian (28 February 2008). "Waratahs debutant Kepu keen to impress". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Twenty Questions with Qantas Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu". ARU. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  7. ^ Growden, Greg (26 July 2011). "Sekope Kepu - Aussie No 1 that got away". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Australia A vs. Tonga, 2008 IRB Pacific Nations Cup". IRB. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Waratahs 2011 Player Statistics". NSWRU. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  10. ^ Wallabies Media Unit (20 March 2013). "Kepu re-signs with Australian Rugby" (Press release). ARU. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  11. ^ Doran, Christy. "No fairytale for beloved Wallabies centurion Sekope Kepu in Japan". Fox Sports Australia. News Corp. Retrieved 28 October 2018.