Tahu calls Slater bluff on sledging

The scene is set for an explosive battle between Queensland star Billy Slater and the Blues’ Parramatta duo of Jarryd Hayne and Timana Tahu after Tahu today accused Slater of lying to save face.<br><br>Slater had this week vehemently denied claims by Tahu and another Eels player that he had mercilessly sledged Hayne in the lead-up to their fiery second-half clash during Parramatta’s 24-10 win over Melbourne last Friday night, telling The Sydney Morning Herald that “there was no sledging between me and any Parramatta player.<br><br>“To hear that, I was a little bit shocked,” Slater is reported to have said.<br><br>But Tahu today stood by his earlier claims, lighting the fuse for more fireworks after Hayne was cleared of a striking charge at the NRL judiciary last night.<br><br>“I’m sure you could see his face – I could see his face and his lips moving,” Tahu, who will line up on the wing for NSW next Wednesday night, told NRL.com.<br><br>“He is probably just trying to sweep it under the rug a bit so that he doesn’t get too much attention.”<br><br>Asked if it was typical of Slater to sledge during a match, Tahu said: “I think that’s just his game. He is a passionate bloke.<br><br>“But to be honest I like watching it – for me, that was awesome on Friday night watching them go at it – two fullbacks like that. <br><br>“I’ve never seen that happen in the history of rugby league. <br><br>“It’s exciting. They’re both exciting players, the best fullbacks in the world and they’re fighting for that no.1 jumper for the Kangaroos. <br><br>“For them to come up against each other and exchange little punches and a bit of trash talking, it was good. <br><br>“It makes you stop worrying about your own job and just enjoy watching it as a spectator. <br><br>“I was loving it on Friday night.”<br><br>The likelihood of Hayne and Slater coming into contact again in Origin II were boosted by last night’s judiciary result, with the Parramatta custodian named at fullback for NSW for the first time in his nine-game State of Origin career.<br><br>The positional reshuffle has seen St George Illawarra’s Beau Scott named to make his debut in the centres, with Tahu moving out to the wing.<br><br>But the veteran of 12 games for the Blues said he was just glad to be back on the representative scene.<br><br>“It’s unbelievable,” Tahu said. “It was something when I came back from rugby – I’m 30 this year and I just wanted to train hard and play the best I could for Parramatta because they already had some good centres there last year in Krisnan Inu and Jonathon Wright and Joel Reddy. <br><br>“They had a good run last year so I felt lucky just putting that Parramatta jumper on again. <br><br>“To make the NSW side was a bonus I wasn’t expecting. <br><br>“To run out for them again was a special moment for me.”<br><br>Tahu said he was keen to make a difference for the Blues in Game Two but insisted he was happy with his efforts in the series opener two weeks ago.<br><br>“I don’t think I could have done too much more – it was a wet game and most of it was played up the middle,” he said. <br><br>“That’s just how the cards were dealt so I just tried to play as hard as I could. <br><br>“I was disappointed with the outcome but I wasn’t disappointed with my own game.”