Mate against mate: Tamou targets Scott
For North Queensland Cowboys props Matt Scott and James Tamou, the opportunity to line up alongside a Kangaroos front-row teammate every week is a special one.
But it adds to the pressure come Origin time, when the Test pair not only face off against each other, but do so as two of the only three specialist props among the 34 players to feature in Origin I.
Tamou will start alongside Wests Tigers bookend Aaron Woods for NSW, and Scott will start alongside now-regular Titans prop Nate Myles for Queensland, but the only backup either pair has on the bench comes from back-rowers who can play tight – like Josh Papalii, Trent Merrin and Anthony Watmough.
Tamou said he will be more than happy to dish the dirt on his clubmate if it will help the Blues' campaign – but sadly his Cowboys teammate is short on weaknesses.
"I try and give as much tips as I can but with Matty, he does his job, that's it," Tamou said.
"He plays like all front-rowers do. You play your 20-minute stint, you get tired, you come off. But in that 20 minutes he doesn't have many weaknesses, he's always competitive, always pushing up.
"The main thing for us is trying to stop his go-forward and get numbers in and work from marker to take his legs out, get on him early. Do as much as possible, effort on effort."
When asked if he would be going on a one-man mission to target Scott, Tamou suggested he may need his Blues teammates to help him out.
"We're definitely going to do our best on him. We're doing notes on him already – he runs overs, his right-hand carry, in contact he stops and tries to find his front and if he gets one-on-one on you he's going to push forward and look for an offload. He's playing well in club footy and we know he's going to be their main go-forward man," he said.
A lack of specialist props in the Queensland squad may put more pressure on Scott's minutes and tire him out, Tamou said, but he expected the Maroons to have a plan on how they'll best use him.
Tamou said he will mark himself on how he performs against his clubmate, as he does for every game against every opposition prop, but added this one will be a "huge test" against the world's best front-rower.
"I'm definitely going to compete every chance I get to go against him – I'll do my best and if my best ain't good enough I'm probably not the right guy for the job," Tamou said bluntly.