Idris hopes to snuff out hurricane
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that knowledge of animals isn't high on the list of requirements to become a rugby league scribe.
So we found it quite gratifying to be handed a lesson on the animal kingdom on Tuesday from none other than the 'Predator of Penrith', who we'll stick our neck out and say isn't a puppy or kitten kind of guy.
"I probably like the bigger blokes better because there's nothing worse than having a little nippy bloke and trying to catch him. It's like an elephant trying to catch a mouse," centre Jamal Idris tells us of his preference as a hunter on the footy field.
"It doesn't go down well."
But when the Panthers host the Warriors on Sunday night and a bloke by the name of Konrad Hurrell rampages into town, we're guessing it won't be a case of an elephant trying to catch a mouse anymore.
"I think it's more an elephant and a rhino with me and him," he says.
In a match-up that could easily make the old Penrith Park far from a level playing field, two of the game's biggest centres go head to head when Idris and Hurrell locks horns – or trunks? – in the final game of the regular season.
The fate of up to four teams could depend on the outcome of this square-off, and Idris is acutely aware of the kind of destruction his opposite number can wreak.
"I remember playing him in 2012 and I'm pretty sure he schooled me as well," he says.
"Other centres rely on speed and footwork whereas he's the kind of centre who, when he gets you one on one, he turns into a front-rower. He's got one goal and that's to go through you and over you."
Which means you spend the week doing what?
"I'll probably just practice during the week headbutting a brick wall," the 24-year-old shrugs. "[But] he's definitely one of those players you have to use your team defence on. You depend on your inside and outside man."
Depending on what transpires over the weekend, the Panthers could retain their second chance or fall as far as seventh and face a possible elimination final in Melbourne or Townsville.
Either way, it will be Penrith's first finals game in four years. In Idris' case, it'll be his first meaningful game in five.
"I remember the last time I played [finals] was in 2009 against Parramatta when I was at the Bulldogs," he recalls.
"There were 84,000 people there, which is still a record for a semi-final. Just the feel when you run onto the field... I remember the first kick Parra had as well, Luke Patten got it and got knocked out his first run, the poor bloke. Things like that just stick in your mind."
And so will this predator-versus-hurricane match-up, when a total of 215 kilograms of brute force collides.
"It's kind of weird," Idris says. "I guess that's why there are more injuries in the game these days as well. People are getting bigger, they're faster, they're stronger, and they're falling in more awkward positions.
"He's playing outstanding, and he's doing all the Warriors ask of him."