“He’s a scary human, but deep down he’s a big teddy bear – a big teddy bear with some great footwork,” Taupau said.
“He’s doing everything well. He’s laying the platform, he’s helping me out, breaking tackles, scoring tries. We’re feeding off each other’s energy.”
Fonua-Blake said of Taupau: “Marty is definitely setting the standard. It’s a pleasure running off the back of him. He’s got the quick play-the-balls, the offloads, and he sets the second phase for the team and a lot of points come off the back of it.
They’re extremely strong and powerful and pave the way for all our blokes.
“We know what we have to do on the field. He runs hard and I try to run hard.”
Coach Des Hasler worked his big men hard over the summer upon his return to the northern beaches and even challenged Fonua-Blake to play a little lighter.
“I’m a couple of kilos lighter, about 119kg, and Dessie asked me during the pre-season to lose some kegs, which I did,” Fonua-Blake said.
“That suspension in week one hurt me, and I thought I was unfortunate with the second one on Mitchell Pearce. It was high but not intentional.
“Those couple of weeks I missed I came in and trained hard. I don’t want to get suspended again because I don’t want them to flog the hell out of me.”
Stand-in Sea Eagles skipper Jake Trbojevic gets the best seat in the house each week playing in the middle and truly appreciated the footwork of his bulky buddies.
“They’re extremely strong and powerful and pave the way for all our blokes,” Trbojevic said.
“Marty gets those offloads, while Addin’s runs have been unbelievable. They bump blokes off and get quick play-the-balls. We always knew Addin was good, but this year he’s really come on and he’s playing consistently each week and for the full game. He’s only 23, so he’s got a lot of time to mature. The way he’s going is outstanding. It’s great when they’re both in your side.”
Fonua-Blake and Taupau are brilliant together, but also know they are likely to square off against each other in the mid-year Test when New Zealand and Tonga slug it out in front of a packed house. There will be no shortage of big hits.
“Once you cross that line there are no mates,” said Fonua-Blake, as he flashed a few of his gold-plated teeth and looked in the direction of Taupau.
Fonua-Blake added he was delighted Tevita Pangai jnr had pledged his allegiance to Tonga ahead of NSW.
Manly can remain well entrenched in the top eight with a win against the struggling Gold Coast, who on Thursday lost Jai Arrow to what was being reported as an adductor strain.
Jarrod Wallace is an Origin prop, and big-money recruit Shannon Boyd will come off the bench.
Hasler said he could not be happier with the work-rate of his starting props and their ability to bend the line. They had a field day early against Cronulla last Sunday.
Hasler said there was a good balance to his pack, with Trbojevic working overtime in the middle, and Corey Waddell, Jack Gosiewski and Morgan Boyle all chiming in with wonderful support roles.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.