Ian Mccullough April 14, 2012
Choosing Australia ... James Tamou. Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY ROOSTERS prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will be out to hit North Queensland front-rower James Tamou hard in Darwin tonight, but denies it is because of his decision to play for Australia and NSW over New Zealand.
Tamou's fine start to the NRL season has him a bolter for a bench spot in the Kangaroos Test squad, which will be named tomorrow, to face the Kiwis in Auckland next Friday.
Waerea-Hargreaves, 23, who's certain to be picked for New Zealand, said he holds nothing against Palmerston North-born Tamou but will be aiming to come out on top when the giants face off in Darwin.
''I respect his decision to play for Australia, it's a personal choice and everyone is entitled to that,'' he said.
''I wish him well, but obviously not during the game as I want to win my battle with him. If that involves hitting him hard, then so be it.''
Tamou, who was raised in Sydney, formally submitted his papers to the ARL Commission on Thursday, pledging his allegiance to the Kangaroos and the Blues. And Waerea-Hargreaves believes the decision will benefit both sides.
''He is a very good player and will be a good addition for Australia, if he gets picked, or NSW,'' he said.
''Obviously I am a proud Kiwi and would have loved to see him play for us, but I have nothing against his decision. I won't say anything to him on the field - the game is hard enough without wasting energy on sledging.''
The fixture at Darwin's TIO Stadium is a Roosters ''home'' game, but the hot and humid conditions will be more familiar to the Townsville-based Cowboys.
And Waerea-Hargreaves acknowledges that the tropical conditions may prove to be a problem, but said coach Brian Smith has prepared his players well.
''It's very warm up here, the sweat has been dripping off me,'' he said.
''But Smithy has been on to us about the importance of taking on fluids regularly. To be fair, this could be a game in Townsville and it wouldn't be that different, so we will just get on with it.
''We are professionals and will still rip in, but it is also a case of playing in a controlled way and trying to ensure we get the two points.''
Elsewhere tonight, star Manly duo Kieran Foran and Brett Stewart remain in serious doubt for the match against the Gold Coast Titans at Brookvale Oval as a result of injuries. The Sea Eagles were not ruling them out officially last night but were readying themselves to be without the pair again.
The Titans scratched centre Beau Champion from their travelling party due to a shoulder injury, and have called in Dominique Peyroux as his replacement.
Gold Coast should, however, be boosted by an earlier than anticipated return of Greg Bird from an ankle problem. The representative lock trained without issue yesterday and travelled to Sydney.