Tigers call out Lussick
Eels firebrand Darcy Lussick had the look of a little girl who was days away from attending a Justin Bieber concert when he turned up for training on Tuesday.
And why not? Fresh from his four-week suspension for a swinging arm on Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves a month ago, Lussick's teammates have managed three wins from four games in his absence. And now he wants in.
"[I'm] definitely excited. I haven't played too much this year so it'd be good to get back in, especially this week versus the Tigers. They're going alright at the moment so it'd be a good test for us," Lussick said on Tuesday.
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But if he thought the Wests Tigers were going to roll out the welcome mat for his arrival, then – like the Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles and Cowboys before him – he'd be severely mistaken.
The big boppers over in Concord have made a habit of talking a big game all year. They've stood up to the Burgess brothers, stuck it to Jason King, and then showed up Test props James Tamou and Matt Scott last Saturday night.
More importantly, they've walked the walk.
"Well that's what you've got to do. If you talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk. That's what we've been doing," said Tigers prop Martin Taupau, who has started the season nastier than a Todd Carney buzz cut gone wrong.
"We don't want to get too overconfident, there's a big difference between being confident and being cocky. I think we're being confident and we're backing it up."
Pressed on what he was going to expect from a fired-up Lussick eager to repay his teammates for his brain explosion four weeks ago, Taupau continued his year-long, public call-out with the following message.
"Not much, just running the ball. We're a pretty good defensive team, I reckon. We'll just wait for them to run at us and we'll just dominate the ruck," he said.
Earlier in the day, Lussick described the Tigers pack as "confident", regarding them amongst the most in-form forwards in the competition.
"They're going good. It's a test for our forward pack. I guess some of us should take it as a personal test as well. They're probably some of the form forwards in the competition so it'd be good to measure where you're at," he said.
"They're confident, that's one thing that they are. The thing is, they're talking a big game, but they also take it onto the field, so you can't knock them for that."
Lussick, 24, even went as far as to say that the Tigers' pack were the reason for injured hooker Robbie Farah's blazing start to the year.
"[Robbie Farah has] been going well, he's a good player. He's a pretty important part of their team," he said. "But the reason he's been going well over the last couple of weeks is because their forwards are getting them on a roll and he's playing off the back of them. I think his forwards have been a massive help to them, but obviously he's a massive loss."
But the former Manly forward promised that while the Waerea-Hargreaves tackle was "poor technique on my behalf", he wasn't going to change his assertive approach.
"I worked on my technique the last four weeks, I've had plenty of time to work on it. But I'm not really going to change too much," he said.
Truth be told, the Tigers won't be expecting him to. Tigers prop Keith Galloway – who has been seen at the boxing gym of boxer Alex Leapai recently – said they were ready to take it to the Eels enforcer.
"If it's on, it's on, isn't it?" he said. "It's a physical game. There's blokes like that in every club. He's a physical player so we've got to match that and take it to him."