Scott's got Jared's measure: Rauhihi
Former Cowboys skipper Paul Rauhihi has hailed Matthew Scott as North Queensland's latest action hero and believes he will overpower Roosters opposite Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the all-important battle for superiority in the middle.
The match review committee cleared the way for an explosive head-to-head encounter between Scott and Waerea-Hargreaves on Friday night when the Roosters enforcer was found to have no case to answer for the tackle that landed him on report last week.
Scott's powerful charges in the opening exchanges against the Broncos last Saturday gave the Cowboys the impetus to jump out to an 18-0 lead after 20 minutes and Rauhihi is backing his former teammate to win his crucial individual battle again.
"Two big boys all right but I've definitely got my money on Matty Scott," Rauhihi told NRL.com.
"I've been a little bit disappointed with Jared the last year or so. I thought his level had dropped a little bit but I think because both sides are heading into some pretty good form it's definitely going to be a big battle between them. They'll both be looking to get their team on the front foot and they say battles are won and lost in the forwards.
"I've always thought it was an attitude thing about when you play as well. There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence and I think he's got that confidence and that's what you need as a player.
"You've got to be able to think that you can be better than anyone else on the field at any time and it's going to take a lot for someone to stop you. That's how I used to think, that if I can run as hard as I can every time, that's going to make it harder for them to stop me and I'll tackle as hard as I can just to try and win over the guy opposite me. He's doing that week in and week out.
"From what I see Matty's got the same sort of attitude where he'll lead with his actions rather than words. When things are tough you want to be the one willing to put your hand up and carry the ball and get the ball rolling for everyone. The position he's in, he's that player that everyone looks to and feeds off so if he's going forward and playing strong then it just lifts everyone else in the team.
"'JT' (Johnathan Thurston) can do such magic stuff with the ball in hand but everyone knows if the team's not going forward and winning that battle of the play-the-ball that makes the job harder for him. I just think the way Matt Scott plays, he keeps a pretty calm head and he knows when all the tough stuff has to be done."
In their past five games for their respective clubs Scott has made 836 metres up the middle compared to 474 for Waerea-Hargreaves and when the two teams met back in Round 10 Scott racked up 154m against 36m for Waerea-Hargreaves as the Cowboys recorded a dominant 42-10 victory.
Waerea-Hargreaves was controversially omitted from the New Zealand team that played the mid-year Test but it didn't come as a surprise to Rauhihi who played 16 Tests for the Kiwis between 2002-2005.
"I probably thought his form at the time it was justified that he wasn't picked," Rauhihi said.
"I don't know what the coaches based their decisions on but I just felt that he seemed to be getting turned on his back a lot, held up in the tackle and getting driven back a lot and when you're playing for your country you've got to be winning those little battles and at the time he probably wasn't."
The last Cowboys prop to captain the club prior to Scott, Rauhihi was a member of North Queensland's 2005 Grand Final team and was the forwards leader when a 19-year-old kid from Longreach was handed his NRL debut in 2004.
A decade on and Rauhihi says that Scott only talks a little bit more now than when he first came into the top grade.
"Because he was so young and quiet he was just more concentrating on trying to take it all in I think," Rauhihi recalled. "He just did his job and went about his business his own way. I had a little bit to do with him but not a lot.
"He was always a good kid when I was there so it doesn't surprise me that he's gone on to reach the level that he has.
"He was pretty quiet when I was there but he's definitely taken on a life of his own now. He's probably pretty well regarded as the No.1 front-rower in the game and he's worked hard to get there.
"I've enjoyed watching him play. I like his style of play, he's pretty no-nonsense , straight up and down front-rower which is what I like in a front-rower anyway."
Having been humiliated by the Wests Tigers in Week One of the 2005 Finals Series, the Cowboys recovered to defeat the Storm at Allianz Stadium (where the controversial awarding of a try to Melbourne centre Steven Bell almost proved costly) and the Eels at then Telstra Stadium to qualify for the Grand Final.
The Cowboys will need to tread a similar path to reach the 2014 decider but Rauhihi sees no reason why they can't go one step further and win the club's first premiership.
"I was a little disappointed at the end there letting [the Broncos] back in like that but they were really strong," said Rauhihi, who is back living in Auckland doing a building apprenticeship.
"Good start but they're always like that at home, they've just got to continue the good form that they've had away.
"I don't see any reason why they can't win enough games to take it out; I'm definitely right behind them."