Taukeiaho to rekindle Taumalolo rivalry
Sio Siua Taukeiaho hasn't forgotten the last time he played against Jason Taumalolo in a finals match.
It was 2011. Taukeiaho's red-hot Warriors edged out Taumalolo's Cowboys 31-30 in a thrilling under-20s grand final.
An 18-year-old Taumalolo produced a rampaging run and try assist to kick-start North Queensland's late comeback from 30-16 down. Kyle Feldt missed a simple conversion after the 80-minute siren to win the game before the Warriors sealed it with a drop goal.
Taukeiaho – 19 years old and playing off the bench – had some big plays but also had the ball stripped to hand the Cowboys their final try at the death. He finished with a premiership though.
"I played against him in under-20s… we won the grand final against him, that was at ANZ," Taukeiaho recalled.
"He was back row, I was back row. The coach tasked me to go toe to toe with him.
"It's just always been like that. You get to a point you get used the challenge. I think most people see we play similar footy as well.
"He was just tough, it took a few of us to get him down during that time. He was the same build, just a little bit smaller but the same build, the same Jason Taumalolo. Just running over everyone."
And Taukeiaho reckons not too much has changed for his fellow Kiwi international in the six years since then.
"He runs 200 metres like it's just normal for him. For most of us we're happy to get over 100 metres!" Taukeiaho laughed.
"I remember Jase would clock up to 300 metres in under-20s and it's just the person that he is, such a competitive player, he's also humble as well but it shows on the field that he can destroy the whole middle on his own.
"For myself it's about taking some metres off him. He can get dangerous when he gets the ball. A few of us middles that will hopefully try and stop him this Saturday."
The form that Taumalolo is in right now has brought the fear factor to opponents, according to Taukeiaho.
"I think most forwards get scared of Jase," he said.
"They kind of just pull back and wait to see what he can do. For us it's just all about going after him, you want to pressure him. In a good way, don't give silly penalties away.
"It's just putting your body on the line for the team. You probably feel the pain afterwards but if you do that and you come away with the win you'd be happy."
Taukeiaho produced a Taumalolo-esque performance of his own last time the Roosters faced the Cowboys. With his team down 16-6 at half-time Taukeiaho's 30-minute second-half spell netted him a monstrous 183 metres, six busts and a try.
"When I come on I try and lift the intensity, try and get as many carries as I can in the first half then second half try and be more aggressive and bring impact to the game before I come off," Taukeiaho said.
"If I only need to play for 40 minutes I try and make the most of it. You don't want to try and hold it for the last 10 minutes because once you're off you might end up staying off."