«I feel like I’ve been at my fittest this year season I’ve been at the Brumbies,» Taliauli said.
«Over the last two years I’ve obviously struggled with injuries and weight issues as well. I’ve stripped a lot of weight and I’m raring to go this year, hopefully the coaches can back me.
«I’ve cut the junk food out, that’s the main one. As you know, us Islanders love KFC so it was cutting the KFC chicken out, especially for dinner. That was a massive one.»
The Brumbies will name their team on Friday afternoon as they chase back to back wins for the first time this year.
Coach Dan McKellar has alternated wing combinations, largely due to injuries, in the five matches so far, but Taliauli got his opportunity in the win against the NSW Waratahs last week.
The 25-year-old was set to be picked for the first game of the year but injured his knee in a pre-season match, delaying his chance to impress.
But the Brumbies are likely to put faith in him to play the Reds, giving him a chance to start against the Queensland side he hoped to break into as a teenager.
The Reds overlooked Taliauli when he was a talented schoolboy, paving the way for him to instead join the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL. That led to a stint in the Australian sevens and he eventually landed at the Brumbies.
«[The Reds] were definitely the club I wanted to play for when I was growing up,» Taliauli said.
«I moved to Queensland when I was 14 and played through the Reds system, but didn’t get the offer from the Reds and the Titans were the first to offer me something out of school.
«I didn’t really get an opportunity at the Reds. It definitely gives me some meaning to prove something, especially to the Reds if I get the chance to play. I just want to have a great game and prove to the Reds and Brumbies what I can do.»
Taliauli had a knee reconstruction in 2017 and missed the entire Super Rugby season. When he was ready to make a comeback, he had to knock on McKellar’s door every morning for a daily weigh-in to check his weight.
The sight of a slim and quick Taliauli is a massive boost for the Brumbies, who are trying to juggle an exciting group of wingers which also includes Henry Speight, Chance Peni, Andy Muirhead and Toni Pulu.
«You’ve heard him talk about the sacrifices he’s made to put him in a good position with his physique, fitness and health … he’s able to produce more of what we like seeing from Lausii more consistently,» said Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano.
«Stoked to see him back playing. He had a really strong pre-season … hopefully we can keep him out there for longer.»
SUPER RUGBY ROUND SIX
Sunday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium, 4.05pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.
Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.