Bring mongrel, be ruthless: Tamou in running to become top of the props

Bring mongrel, be ruthless: Tamou in running to become top of the props

Heir to the throne … NSW front-rower James Tamou.NSW prop James Tamou is eager to live up to his promise to add ”mongrel” to Wednesday night’s decider in Brisbane and to take the mantle as the game’s top prop from Queensland’s Petero Civoniceva in the process.

Tamou, who has taken to the rigours of Origin like a duck to water, was short but deep when asked what he would offer a NSW team that had vowed to end Queensland’s six-year stranglehold on the series. ”My promise is to bring mongrel, to go out there and just be ruthless,” the 23-year-old told The Sun-Herald.

The North Queensland prop, who admitted Origin I was the first time he had ever wanted to vomit before a match through the fear of ”disappointing”, was serious in his answer.

His pledge was welcomed by Blues assistant coach Steve Roach, who endorsed Tamou as being on the verge of ”something special”.

”While Petero has been a wonderful prop, and deserves to be regarded as a great, it might be time for a young prop, like James, to go into that game and think, ‘I want the crown, I want the mantle’,” Roach said. ”And I think he and Timmy Grant can do it; I love his attitude as well.

”I have never seen a bloke [like Tamou] who gained such a belief after one Origin game. Did you see that game he played [for the Cowboys] against the Tigers after Origin I]? Belief? He was unstoppable.”

Roach was impressed by the standard of front-rowers in the NSW system, saying besides Tamou, Grant and St George Illawarra’s Trent Merrin, there were others including Parramatta’s Tim Mannah champing at the bit for another shot at Origin. ”Timmy Grant announced himself in his first hit-up [which sent Civoniceva reeling]. It was like, ‘Here I am, come and get me’. And he will do the same in this game.”

Roach credited the decision by Ricky Stuart to shunt skipper Paul Gallen from lock to prop for putting the state’s front-rowers’ union on notice. ”That challenged them,” he said. ”It’s a bit embarrassing for blokes to see a lock play up front and now I reckon we could pick half-a-dozen of them. Outside of Tamou and Grant, there’s Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway at Wests Tigers, Trent Merrin and Timmy Mannah. We’ve started to fill the socks a bit.

”And a guy like Woods will play Origin one day, it should make him hungrier. When you’re on the verge and watching these games, you’re begging for a shot. But, at the same token, the current pair should be lifting to the challenge to keep [them] out, they should be thinking, ‘I want to stay here for five years, and come and try to get me out’.”

Roach also praised the level of skill. ”I love the pack, the size and speed; footwork is great. They also have footy smarts – they’re not just big lumps who can run and tackle. They understand the game. And when you have blokes like Luke Lewis leaving the bench and lifting the spirit and tempo of the game, it’s great … and then there is big T-Rex [Tony Williams] and Anthony Watmough. It makes me glad I’m not Queensland.

”The first team that beats Queensland will be immortalised, they’ll be remembered as the ones who stopped the rot … a lot of it is about belief and these guys believe they can win it. It’s beginning to get embarrassing. I was always one to find a reason why you wanted to win and there is reason enough now. We have to win a decider. Win a decider and you’re back.”

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