Rebels Profiles: Ikapote Tupai

26 June 2017

Written by: Luke Sicari

Ikapote Tupai feeling home with Melbourne Rebels

For most 21-year-olds, the sound of deafening party music often represents a night out which lasts long into the early hours of the following morning.

Ikapote Tupai though finds solace in that environment, using it as an outlet to his suddenly high-paced, high-pressure lifestyle.

Signed by the Melbourne Rebels before the 2017 Super Rugby season, Tupai uses his love of DJing to relax and recuperate. The strains of a highly demanding job as a professional athlete are daily, but Tupai has struck a balance, via what he describes as a lifelong “hobby.”

“It is a getaway,” Tupai said of his DJing.

“With constant training everyday, sometimes you just want to get your mind off everything.

“I remember as a kid, my uncles and cousins were always remixing and I became really interested. I picked up on little stuff by watching them.

“When I was 12-13, I downloaded the program on my laptop and from then on, I made RnB and hip hop remixes. I got a fan base on SoundCloud and then I became live.”

The rhythm Tupai has been able to find with the music has translated onto the rugby field, as the back rower builds internal belief with Melbourne.

Losing is something youngsters never want to be exposed to, but with the Rebels languishing at the bottom of the Australian Super Rugby pool and facing an uncertain future, Tupai’s initiation has presented some unique and challenging roadblocks.

Despite not officially debuting in Super Rugby just yet, the guidance of Melbourne’s senior players has helped expedite Tupai’s development.

The image of a quiet, unsure kid is now being remodeled.

“When I started, I was shy and didn’t know what I was doing,” Tupai said.

“Now that I know everyone here, I feel real confident with everything that I’m doing and I bring it out on the field.”

The former Melbourne Rugby Club Unicorn has matured at a rapid rate, now using his personal experiences to assist some of his younger associates.

“We get players coming in and out, so we try to make them feel a part of us,” Tupai said.

“We are already connected together, so all the new guys, we try to make them feel as one of our own.

“As a new kid coming in and not knowing what all this professionalism was about, it was hard for me to adapt.

“As soon as you get involved with all the boys, mingle and talk with one another, you feel home.”

As Tupai claims a sense of belonging with the Rebels, his pathway could have taken a different turn if he didn’t move to Melbourne.

Growing up in New Zealand, playing rugby league as opposed to union, a relocation down under and connection with a family member helped Tupai discover his true sporting love.

“I lived in New Zealand from when I was born until 2006, playing rugby league,” Tupai said.

“From 2006 onwards, I moved to Melbourne and my uncle was at the local rugby union club. I honestly didn’t want to play league when I got here.

“So I actually signed up with the union club and from then on, I was playing rep every year.”

Tupai’s young, but accomplished career, has seen him represent the Rebels in the NRC competition, along with Australia and Tonga in Under 20 tournaments.

While his on field progression is trending upwards, the 21-year-old DJ still has to earn his keep to have a say on the pregame music.

“I don’t control the music in the change rooms,” Tupai said.

“I can’t really say anything just yet.”

Luke Sicari is a second year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Sport Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter here: @lukesicari