The Parramatta Eels' Tepai Moeroa has a burning desire to play for the Wallabies.
The Parramatta Eels' Tepai Moeroa has a burning desire to play for the Wallabies.

Parramatta Eel vows to crush All Blacks in shock code switch

Bringing the Bledisloe Cup back to Australia is one of the key motivators behind Tepai Moeroa's shock switch from the NRL to rugby.

The 23-year-old Parramatta Eels forward will join NSW Waratahs on a two-year deal from next season, and already has Wallaby gold in his sights.

"First off I want to get a game with the Tahs, that would be a nice start, but the end goal is to win a Super Rugby championship, play for the Wallabies, but I'd like to get the Bledisloe back in Australia," Moeroa told The Sunday Telegraph.

"That would be something I'd be looking to have an influence on and helping make happen.

"I've been to a few of the Wallabies versus All Blacks games, just to hear some of the fans and people and their comments about Australian rugby, I burn, because I know that Australian rugby is so much better than what they think it is.

"Just the way they talk about Australian rugby makes me burn. I want to have an influence in helping Australia get back to where they deserve.

"I want to bring the Bledisloe back to where it belongs."

Parramatta Eels star Tepai Moeroa will switch codes to join the NSW Waratahs next season. Picture: Brett Costello
Parramatta Eels star Tepai Moeroa will switch codes to join the NSW Waratahs next season. Picture: Brett Costello

Australia has not held the Bledisloe Cup since 2002.

Moeroa, a former Australian Schoolboys rugby star, will run out for his 103rd NRL match tomorrow at Bankwest Stadium, a ground that he will call home for the Waratahs next year in Super Rugby.

The 112kg behemoth will make the move from the pack in league to midfielder in rugby, radically transforming the Waratahs' attacking game plan, which has used two playmakers in recent years.

Tepai Moeroa (R) has played more than 100 games for the Parramatta Eels. Picture: AAP
Tepai Moeroa (R) has played more than 100 games for the Parramatta Eels. Picture: AAP

"I've been playing a lot of back row and prop but normally it's back row. It is incredibly similar to playing inside centre in rugby, there's a lot of similarities in the lines you run, defensive movements you need to do," Moeroa said.

"Playing lock also helps because I've been ball-playing in the middle, and that helps at No.12 because I can ball-play if I need to or run a line.

"It's good that I've been playing lock and back row in league because it will hopefully transfer easily.

"I like that role, if that's what the Tahs want me to do then I'll be trying my best to bend that line, I'm keen."

Moeroa has a pedigree in rugby, having played at Newington College.
Moeroa has a pedigree in rugby, having played at Newington College.

Moeroa, whose partner Kim is expecting their second child in a fortnight, revealed he was close to joining NSW last season.

"My last contract negotiation was last year, I was thinking of coming over to rugby, coming to the Tahs, but I'd just bought a house. Obviously the money in rugby and rugby league, there was a substantial difference," Moeroa said.

"The money in league was just too good, considering I'd just bought my house, with a young family as well.

"The best option at the time was to take the Parra offer and hopefully smash out the house (payments).

"But now, I don't want to die wondering.

"I'm turning 24 this year, so I'm still relatively young I like to think. I'll give it a couple of years, give it a red-hot crack and see where that journey takes me.

Tepai Moeroa is proud of his achievements in rugby league. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Tepai Moeroa is proud of his achievements in rugby league. Picture: Jonathan Ng

"I've played 100 games of rugby league, did a bit of Junior Kangaroos, Prime Minister's XIII, All Stars, Emerging Blues for a bit, but it just felt like if I was ever to come back to rugby it would be now.

"I didn't want to stay in rugby league and have that 'what if, what would have happened if I went to rugby'. You don't want to die without trying. I don't want to get to my 30s and wonder what would have happened if I'd went to rugby.

"(Waratahs general manager of rugby) Tim Rapp was at Newington while I was there for a few years, he's one of the big reasons why I'm here at the Tahs. I just missed playing rugby, to be honest.

"When I was growing up, there were a lot of boys playing rugby out west but for them, there was just no avenue past club rugby.

"Once they played a few years of club rugby they switched over to league because there are so many steps and pathways, from Harold Mathews to SG Ball, so many steps. They saw those options in league that they didn't have in rugby so they switched over and tried to make it in the NRL.

"For rugby, there are a lot of great players out west, it would be a smart idea to invest in that pool because there's so much untapped potential out there."

For now, Moeroa is dreaming of a fairytale finish with the Eels, although they who are seventh on the NRL ladder.

"I want to leave the club on a good note, hopefully play some finals footy and ultimately win the grand final," Moeroa said.

"That end goal is I want to have a good finish with Parra."

News Corp Australia


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