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Former Vodafone Warrior Tupou ends playing career

Former Vodafone Warriors winger Bill Tupou, a 2011 NRL grand finalist, has ended his playing career with immediate effect.

The 32-year-old Tupou, who made 62 NRL appearances for the Vodafone Warriors from 2010-2013, announced his retirement midway through his eighth season with the Wakefield Wildcats in the English Super League.

Sidelined for almost a year after rupturing a patella tendon last year, the Auckland-born Marist Saints junior made his return through the club’s reserve grade last month but encountered more issues and decided to retire of medical advice.

“After almost eight seasons at Wakefield unfortunately my time has come to an end,” Tupou said on his Facebook page.

“I want to say thank you to everyone at the club for their support for me and my family.”

Tupou came through the Vodafone Warriors’ pathways, immediately impressing as an NRL player in the making during his time with the club’s National Youth Competition side. He debuted in the NYC’s first season in 2008 and went on to play 49 times – scoring 37 tries – for the Vodafone Junior Warriors.

While still eligible for the NYC in 2010, he made his NRL debut as a 19-year-old in April in a season in which he played 12 times for both the NRL and NYC sides. Ultimately he was ineligible to play for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC finals when they went on to win the grand final.

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His personal highlight in his rookie campaign was the club’s 37-10 win over Cronulla-Sutherland in round 22. After failing to score in his first nine games he picked up a hat-trick at Shark Park.

He was on the right wing for each of the Vodafone Warriors’ four matches in the 2011 finals, scoring their first try in their epic 20-12 preliminary final win over the Storm.

While he had a career highlight lining up with his teammates in the grand final a week later, he remembered little of it after copping a heavy knock when he and Manly Warringah centre Steve Matai clashed heads early in the second half. Tupou was taken from the field.

He was then called into the Kiwis for the Four Nations in the United Kingdom; he became Kiwi #772 although he didn’t play a game on tour.

After playing all 24 matches for the Vodafone Warriors in 2012 he was released midway through 2013 to join Canberra. There he made a further 14 appearances before ending his NRL career early in 2015 with a total of 22 tries in 76 matches.

Joining the Wakefield Wildcats in the Super League, Tupou soon established himself as a firm fan favourite and went on to score 40 tries in his 126 matches.

“Although I didn’t want to call it a day in this particular way, following medical advice, I felt that this was the right decision,” he said.

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