CLINTON TOOPI FACT FILE
Find out all you need to know about the Rhinos new star signing Clinton Toopi, who will move to Headingley Carnegie from next season on a 3 year deal.
Clinton Toopi was born on 29th February 1980 in Stratford in New Zealand. He was educated at Edgewater College in Auckland and originally played in Auckland for Mount Wellington and Otahuhu in his early career, the latter being the same club that former Leeds star Richie Blackmore came from. He was part of the New Zealand Under 18 side that won the Oceania Under 19 Cup in 1998. He followed this up with a sensational 1999 season at loose forward or centre. He was a member of the Auckland South squad that won the NZ National Provisional Cup and the Otahuhu combination beaten in the Auckland Grand Final. He also made his first grade debut that year for the Warriors off the bench against South Sydney at Ericsson Stadium on 2nd May 1999. He made one more appearance that season as a replacement. The following year he made a further four senior appearances playing at full back for the Warriors before being drafted into the New Zealand Maori squad that travelled to Europe for the 2000 World Cup. At the World Cup he started all three games at full back scoring two tries of his sides three tries in the opening game against Scotland in Glasgow, when the Maori won 17-16. However, defeat in the subsequent games to Samoa, captained by Willie Poching, at Workington, and Ireland in Dublin, ended his World Cup hopes. In 2001 he became an established member of the Warriors squad and earned a call up to the national side making his debut at right centre in the one off test against France at Ericsson Stadium on 10th June, which New Zealand won 36-0. A month later he retained his place in the squad to face Australia in the Anzac Test on 13th July, playing on the right wing in the Wellington test, with the visitors winning 28-10. If 2001 had been a break through year, the following year was to be a monumental one for Toopi. He finished the season with 18 tries for the Warriors including a decisive one against Cronulla in Sydney to book their place in the Grand Final for the first time in the club’s history. He started at left centre in the Grand Final against the Roosters and will become the ninth player from the side that day to play in Super League plus coach Daniel Anderson when he arrives at the Rhinos next year. He capped that year with his first try for New Zealand in the his third game on 12th October against Australia at Wellington in a 32-24 defeat before joining the touring party to Great Britain. He featured in all three warm up games against Hull, St Helens and England A and was named as right centre for the first test. He played in both the first test and the drawn second test but missed the third test after suffering a broken bone in his hand. In 2003 he once again finished as one of the leading try scorer for the Warriors with a great return of 17 tries in 22 games including his first hat trick as a senior professional against Wests at Ericsson Stadium on 6th September. The Warriors continued where they had left off the previous year but were unfortunate not to book a return to the Grand Final after suffering a narrow defeat to eventual winners Penrith in the Grand Final Qualifier, going down 28-20 in Sydney, having finished the season in sixth place and beat Canterbury and Canberra in the play offs. On the international stage he was part of the New Zealand side that suffered a tough 48-6 mauling against Australia on 25th July in Sydney, the home sides fifth consecutive win over their old rivals. However, on 18th October that was all swept aside as Toopi produced a man of the match performance in Auckland, scoring a hat trick to inflict a 30-16 defeat on the Kangaroos in the 100th meeting between the two sides. However, 2004 was to be a disappointing year on both fronts. The Warriors suffered a horror season, parting company with 12 players including the Leeds bound Ali Lauitiiti and head coach Daniel Anderson. Toopi scored just three tries in 18 appearances, including one off the bench, before reuniting with his former club coach for New Zealand in the inaugural Tri Nations. He had gained his eighth cap in the 37-10 defeat to Australia in Newcastle on 23rd April but hopes were high of a strong performance in the Tri Nations. The giant centre missed both opening games against Australia but was back in the side for the two games against Great Britain on 6th and 20th November. New Zealand lost both games at Huddersfield and Hull which ended their involvement in the tournament but there was a positive note to end the season on as Toopi produced a man of the match performance with two tries in the 24-20 win over France in Carcasonne. The Warriors continued to struggle in 2005, now onto their third coach in two seasons, Toopi was again amongst the try scorers with 6 touch downs in his 23 appearances, two of which were off the bench. However, it was landmark year for the New Zealand test side as they came of age. There were little signs of what was to come when the Kiwis lost 32-16 to Australia in the Anzac Test on 22nd April when Toopi was a substitute however come October it was to be a different story. Under the leadership of new coach Brian McLellan, the Kiwis recorded their first win in Sydney against Australia since 1959 with Toopi scoring his second hat trick against the Kangaroos in a man of the match performance. He missed the narrow defeat the following week back in New Zealand through injury but returned for the third game of the Tri Nations against Great Britain at Loftus Road. Once again he had a major impact on the game and crossed for two tries in 42-26 win. He was also in the side that lost 38-12 to Great Britain at Huddersfield but New Zealand had already qualified for the Final. Toopi gained his 16th cap for his country in the 38-22 win over France in Toulouse on 18th November and was then named at left centre for the historic Tri Nations Final against Australia at Elland Road on 26th November. The Kiwis made history by destroying Australia 24-0 in the Final. So far in 2006 he has played nine times for the Warriors scoring a try against reigning Premiers Wests Tigers in the Warriors 26-10 win in Christchurch. He retained his place in the New Zealand side for the Anzac Test, although Australia gained revenge with a 50-12 win in Brisbane. With 128 appearances so far for the Warriors, Toopi is fifth in the all time list for the club just behind Wigan’s Jerry Seuseu on 132. He is third in the all time list of leading try scorers at the club also, having scored 57 tries for the club so far. He trails behind St Helens’ Francis Meli with 60 and Catalans star Stacey Jones on 75.