Sisilia Tuipulotu has rugby in her blood, but the Gloucester-Hartpury sensation has high hopes after being awarded a Welsh Rugby Union retainer contract.

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With Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola and Taulupe Faletau as cousins, this 18-year-old has big shoes to fill, but she gets inspired by the talent in her family.

The advice given to her by her prolific rugby cousins has played a key role, not just in small elements of her game but in how she goes about her training as well.

“They drop me a text occasionally, and give me a few tips, like when I got the Six Nations call up. Just little ways to make my game better,” said Tuipulotu.

“I’m the type of person where if I do something wrong it will stay in my head, but Toby would say just forget about what you’ve done wrong and focus on the next move.

“You need to lift yourself up and know the next move is coming because if it stays in your head, it will just drag you down.”

One of the biggest drivers for Tuipulotu is inspiring other young women to play rugby, and sport in general. Tuipulotu is extremely passionate about her Tongan heritage and wants to act as a role model for other young women.

“I think ever since I started playing, I was hoping I could inspire the little ones, especially the girls,” she said.

“They can follow in my footstep, I want to encourage more Tongan girls that they can play rugby. Even though we have to follow what our parents say, if your decision is to play rugby then play.”

Another key person in the development of Tuipulotu is her cousin Carwyn Tuipulotu who has just broken through at the Scarlets. The 20-year-old back-rower has already enjoyed success with the U18 and U20 teams for Wales, so he has been a first port of call for Tuipulotu for when his former flat-mate needs any advice on her game.

However, as two young cousins both moving up the ranks in international rugby for Wales, Tuipulotu admitted that things can get competitive. During her strength workouts in the gym, Tuipulotu aims to get better results than her cousin Carwyn.

“In the gym I always double the amount I lift, so if I do say bench 40, I either double it to 80 or drop down to 70,” said Tuipulotu.  “I just like to push myself because I know my body can do more but if my body is telling me I am tired, I know I have to push.

It is not just in the gym where Tuipulotu finds herself working hard, as a Gloucestershire University student she has been hitting the books as well with her psychology degree.

“All my lecturers have been really supportive actually, whenever I am not training, I try to catch up on the lectures, but they have been supportive of what my decision is,” said Tuipulotu.

“I was in a lecture when I found out about the contract, I had to leave the lecture to answer the phone, then I rang my dad and he cried.”

She draws huge inspiration from her dad Sione who played for Tonga and Newport amongst other clubs. “My dad was such a brilliant player, a great reader of the game. He just tells me to be me on the pitch and he will be proud whatever I do.”

With her new contract, Tuipulotu has hopes of settling into the international rugby environment.

“At the start I was very quiet, I didn’t really speak to anybody but through the months I think I have grown as a person,” she stated.

“I am more confident now and speak to everyone now and have even done some TikToks.”

Tuipulotu made her Test debut as a replacement in Wales’ remarkable victory over Ireland at the RDS in Dublin last Saturday.

This weekend Ioan Cunningham’s side take on Scotland at the Cardiff Arms Park, and Tuipulotu has urged the fans to come out in force.

“It will be out of this world,” she said. “Playing home is so much different to playing away. You get to play in front of a massive crowd, it’ll be really loud, and amazing.

“It’s a great game, no different to the men’s game. Amazing would be the word to describe last weekend’s game. I can’t believe it.

“I was really nervous, but people say nerves are good. Your adrenaline pumps up, and you get to perform the way you do.

“I only got a few minutes but on the bench, I could see how intense the game was. Most of the family cried because it meant the world to them.”