Over the weekend, Wests Tigers announced the signing of Asu Kepaoa, a 20 year outside back from the Roosters on a 3.5-year deal.
Besides impressive highlights on Youtube, Kepaoa comes into the Wests Tigers system as a bit of an unknown factor to fans.
After watching a few of his games in the NSW cup however from 2019, I’m confident that the young Kiwi outside back could be a potential diamond for the club going forward which would explain why Michael Maguire has invested in him with a long term deal.
A lot of fans have pegged Kepaoa as a winger but from the games I’ve seen, the young Kiwis has shown potential in the Fullback position which is why he is the perfect replacement for Corey Thompson.
Kepaoa as a 19-year-old enjoyed a very strong season in the NSW Cup for the North Sydney Bears averaging 164 running metres and recording 5 tries and 4 try assists in 15 games.
Although he defended on a wing, Kepaoa would often switch to Fullback for the bears during attacking sets and looked very promising.
Kepaoa during his career has also spent time in the centres so the young outside back brings a lot of utility value to the squad.
In terms of his best position, Tigers fans shouldn’t be too surprised if Kepaoa finds himself at Fullback in the future if regular Fullback Adam Doueihi is injured.
As previously mentioned, Kepaoa’s yardage game is very strong. The young Kiwi has a big body and bent the line for North Sydney every time he carried the ball starting offsets very well which is exciting considering he’s only 89 Kg according to the Wests Tigers website.
With any luck, I’m sure that Kepaoa has more growing to do which will make him an even more dangerous ball runner. The young outside back also displayed a very good short passing game at Fullback, putting hole runners into space on serval occasions which often lead to try-scoring situations.
If Kepaoa can add some variation and range to his passing, in particular the long ball, The Tigers have found themselves a diamond out of the Roosters system.
Kepaoa’s biggest strength however is his ability to beat his man one on one from Fullback.
Against Penrith, Kepaoa has able to use his speed, skill, and strength to beat first-grade standard players such as Jarome Luai more than once which is a great testament to how deceptive he is.
I think that Wests Tigers fans will see Asu Kepaoa in first grade sooner rather than later.
Given the Tigers injury track record this season, the young outside back can cover several positions and Michael Maguire hasn’t shied away from throwing rookies into the deep end in 2020.
I’m expecting to see Kepaoa start on the wing with the possibility of moving to Fullback when the team requires it.
Image: Wests Tigers Facebook