Wales star Sisilia Tuipulotu has paid a special tribute to her late grandfather as she prepares to do battle against the best in the world in New Zealand. Powerhouse prop Sisilia Tuipulotu, one of 32 full-time players contracted by the WRU, has landed in New Zealand this week with her teammates ahead of facing World Cup semi-finalists Canada, world champions New Zealand and Australia in World Rugby's new WXV competition over the coming weeks.

After touching down, Tuipulotu - who has only been playing rugby for three years - was given the opportunity to dedicate her tournament jersey to someone. “I’m dedicating my jersey to my grandpa,” she said. “I’ve only been playing rugby for a short amount of time, like three years now, but ever since the start my grandpa has always supported me. He lived in New Zealand and would wake up whatever time of day it was to watch me play. So in the Six Nations he got up at like 4am to watch us play.” Get the latest World Cup news by signing up to our newsletter here.

A clip shared by the Welsh Rugby Union shows Tuipulotu calling her aunty to tell her the news, before they both become emotional. “He loved every one of his grandchildren as his own,” she said. “He probably loved us more than his children! He was the best. I couldn’t ask for a better grandfather than him.”

Watch Tuipulotu's reaction as she dedicates her jersey to her late grandfather:

Tuipulotu plays for English top-flight side Gloucester-Hartpury, and her rugby success shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone when you consider her dad Sione played for Tonga and Newport, while she also counts Wales centurion Taulupe Faletau, England duo Mako and Billy Vunipola and Scarlets back-rower Carwyn Tuipulotu among her cousins.

Earlier this year she was Wales’ best player in a thumping 31-5 win over Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park in the Women’s Six Nations, leading head coach Ioan Cunningham to say “she can be one of the best props in the world”. Tuipulotu herself said: “I’m just taking every step as it comes. I’m grateful for the opportunities I get and I’m still learning every day. I’m grateful that people think I can [be world-class] and that makes me push even harder to get that aim and aim to be the best prop I can be.”

She also revealed how her family were initially hesitant about her playing rugby at a young age, meaning she did not take up the sport until college. She added: “When I turned 16 I went against that decision and they’ve supported me ever since - I think I’m a lion!"

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