Townsville's Guerra ready to face Cowboys
Aidan Guerra is filthy on himself for already missing one match in the Roosters’ 2014 finals campaign, and is out to make amends against the club that let him slip through the cracks.
Guerra watched Saturday's nail biting 19-18 loss to the Panthers from the coach's box alongside Trent Robinson as he served a one-match ban for a chicken wing tackle on Rabbitohs second-rower Kyle Turner a week earlier.
The shock loss to Penrith leaves the Roosters preparing for a sudden death showdown with the in-form Cowboys, and the 26-year-old is determined to make up for his absence against a North Queensland outfit that, had things panned out differently, Guerra could well have been turning out for.
A quick squiz at the Maroons back-rower's history and the question has to be asked: how did he end up over 2000 kilometres south and in the heart of cockroach territory?
He grew up in Townsville. Had his first taste of the 13-man game with local juniors club Brothers.
Once punched on with current Cowboys squad member, and now good mate Anthony Mitchell in the under 7's. Ranks former Cowboys under 20's mentor Kristian Woolf among the biggest influences in a career that has seen him rise to premiership and representative glory. How doesn't this bloke have one of those Cowboys horn logos branded into his backside?
"They didn't have a junior system when I was coming through," Guerra simply says of the pre-Holden Cup days when as a 17-year-old he was pinched from right under the Cowboys' noses by Melbourne.
"When you finish school you're either ready to play QLD Cup or you weren't. I wasn't at that stage so I got an opportunity from the Melbourne Storm to go down and play in the under 19's competition in Brisbane. They had a better set-up and I just took that chance and here I am."
Guerra's family still calls Townsville home and for his part the versatile second-rower holds no ill feeling towards the Cowboys. Nor does he have any ambitions of returning to the Sunshine state any time soon.
Guerra's sole priority at the moment is getting back out on the pitch and repaying the Roosters teammates he feels he let down by missing their first finals match.
"It was tough," Guerra responds when asked about his enforced stint on the sidelines and the tackle that landed him there.
"I've taken it a little bit harder than if I was to miss that game through injury. It was my fault and my wrongdoing that made my miss that game and I feel like I let the boys down.
"I was just trying to get [Turner] in a position where it was a dominant tackle or a slower play the ball and that's all there is to it. There was no malicious intent at all, it just happened to get him caught in the wrong position and that's it.
"I can't try and explain that. It was on the field, it was something that I didn't do on purpose but I've got to take my medicine for it.
"I took that week off to train really hard and I'm hoping I can make an influence on this weekend against the Cowboys."
To do so he'll have to contend with one of the premier props in the game, in-form Cowboys enforcer Matt Scott.
The 29-year-old Queensland and Australian book-end has been in sublime touch, churning out a monumental 180 metres per game as the Cowboys have claimed six wins in seven games since his return from a fractured cheekbone sustained in Origin II.
Guerra admits the job of containing Scott is a hefty one, but should be made easier by the availability of Kiwi enforcer, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who was cited but not charged for a high shot on Brent Kite at the weekend.
"When Matty Scott hurt his jaw in Origin, I said if he comes back strong he's going to be a big push for them so obviously he's going to be a player than gets them going forward in attack," Guerra says.
"And he's a bit of a heart and soul in defence as well so we've got a big job to do on him. As we do with a lot of the players in that team, we can't focus on just one.”