Brad Thorn’s men are 4-5 and just six points – or one-and-a-half wins – behind Australian conference leaders Melbourne ahead of hosting Tokyo’s Sunwolves (2-8) on Friday.
Games against Melbourne and the Waratahs follow in what shapes as defining period for Brad Thorn’s regenerating side.
Much like the team as a whole, Wallabies prop Tupou has enjoyed a season of fluctuating form and glimpses of brilliance as he eyes a World Cup berth later this year.
Captain Samu Kerevi has seen the man known as ‘Tongan Thor’ at his complicated best but says, like the rest of his side, it will be the simple tasks that need doing well against the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium.
“Where do I start with Nella,” he said.
“He’s an amazing player, ridiculously talented player … if you guys could see some o f the things he does for how big he is and how fast he moves.
“He has a big aura about him on the field … if he just simplifies it (the team will benefit).”
Tupou will have a chance to make an early statement, particularly in the scrum, when he starts against a Sunwolves team that was humiliated 52-0 by the Highlanders last week.
Fijian-born flyer Semisi Masirewa is the trump card on the wing for the visitors, having crossed seven times for the Sunwolves this season.