JWH, Moa ready to bring down the Burgess boys
There's not too many folk who'd fancy running into Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa in a dark alley.
A damn sight fewer who'd relish doing so on a football field.
Thick as thieves and meaner than Mike Tyson coming off a hunger strike, the two Roosters big men received a standing ovation when they walked off Allianz turf after a commanding opening 30 minutes against North Queensland last Friday night.
And rightly so. The biggest duo out of New Zealand since Flight of the Conchords, the pair had just spent the last half an hour redefining the term 'smash hit' against Kangaroos front-rowers Matt Scott and James Tamou, as well as the in-form Ashton 'Thor' Sims.
Having racked up a combined 164 metres and 27 tackles between them, Waerea-Hargreaves and Moa had laid the type of platform you could run a presidential – hell even a premiership campaign – from, and the Chooks enjoyed a 30-zip lead against a team with one of the most feared forward packs in the business.
Now just 80 minutes from another grand final appearance, the two men charged with propping up the Roosters' title assault know it'll take more than half an hour of brutal brilliance to get past the Rabbits and their 356 kilos of Burgess muscle.
It's a challenge Waerea-Hargreaves says is made all the easier when he watches his front-row partner charge headlong into the defence like a bull at an unguarded buffet.
"When you see your partner in crime running as hard as he can, you don't want to stick to your structure or anything like that, you want to grab the ball and go straight after him," Waerea-Hargreaves tells NRL.com.
"It's awesome to get someone running the ball as hard as he can and getting a quick play the ball you just want to go.
"You want to do it because he's just done it for you and that's what it's all about.
"For Sammy and I it was do-or-die, and credit to the Cowboys they fought hard and it was great."
It was a different story back in May when Waerea-Hargreaves was dropped from the Kiwi side for the Trans-Tasman Test. The perception in the papers was despite his 108kg frame, he managed to somehow go missing in the big games.
Waerea-Hargreaves knows this perception is out there. And no prizes for guessing how many four-letter words he gives about it.
"I don't really read into it to be honest with you," Waerea-Hargreaves says.
"I just worry about doing my job to the best of my ability. But this is man or mouse stuff. This is where you're playing those physical games, and you have to give it your all or your season's over.
"Souths are bloody good. They're big and they play that power style of footy, but we've just got to worry about us and what we do.
"They're going to be extremely difficult... but these are the challenges you look forward to."
While Waerea-Hargreaves may love the rough stuff like 50 Cent loves rhymes involving fat kids and cake, Moa is a tad more refined in his approach.
Only a tad mind you, as his shot on Sims in the second minute last week, followed up by another bell-ringer on Scott in the 78th, testifies.
But watch the man built like a Mack truck when he goes to the line, and once every so often he'll slip an absolute pearler of a ball. More often than not to Sonny Bill Williams trailing on the inside in support.
Like he did to open the second half against the Rabbits back in Round 26. And again midway through the first stanza last week.
"I'm aware that for all the battering that I do, I try and conserve the body a bit and try and add a pass here and there because otherwise I'll just be getting smashed every run," Moa says.
"It's something that I've worked on, and Sonny's always a really good support runner and when he knows it's on he'll give me a word and I try and pull it off."
Since Round 22's clash with the Titans, it's a role Moa had been playing from off the bench. Young bucks Dylan Napa and then Kane Evans were preferred to start alongside Waerea-Hargreaves for their aggression, with 28-year-old Moa maintaining the rage from around the 20-minute mark.
It's hard to see that continuing against the Rabbitohs' all-star forward contingent given the old-fashioned blitzkrieg he and Waerea-Hargreaves launched from the kick-off last Friday. Particularly after the Bunnies themselves were so dominant up the middle early against Manly a week earlier.
"I prefer to start," Moa admits.
"But we've got such a good side that you're happy to be in the 17 and contribute and to do whatever you can to help the side.
"As much as I want to start if it suits the team with me coming off the bench then so be it."