Jon Tuxworth April 16, 2012
Kangaroos and Raiders prop David Shillington has backed the inclusion of Cowboys bolter James Tamou on the Australian bench for Friday's Anzac Test match.
Tamou, now 23, was playing Toyota Cup at the Roosters when Shillington began his NRL career at the Bondi club.
Shillington was so impressed by Tamou that during his second season at Canberra in 2010 he urged the Raiders to pursue the boom forward.
However, Tamou opted to remain in Townsville, re-signing with North Queensland until the end of 2013 early in the 2010 season.
''I've always rated him. He was an under-20s player at the Roosters when I was there and I admired him as a hard worker and athlete,'' Shillington said.
''I actually talked him up to Furnsey [Canberra coach David Furner] when he was coming off contract.
''I said to Furnsey he'd be a fantastic buy and I think they actually made a play for him, but he knocked it back and stayed on obviously with the Cowboys.''
New Zealand-born prop Tamou's selection for Friday night's Auckland Test is sure to be met with derision across the ditch.
Just months after narrowly missing Kiwi selection when part of the New Zealand train-on squad for last year's Four Nations tournament, Tamou will instead face up to the haka as part of a powerful Kangaroos pack.
Australia coach Tim Sheens said he had no qualms picking the in-form North Queensland prop, who moved to Sydney at age 13 after growing up in Palmerston North.
''He's eligible to play for Australia - he wants to play for Australia,'' Sheens said. ''The lad's made his decision. That's what he wants to do, as many other lads have done with respect to play for New Zealand or play for Australia … they make that decision based on the criteria.
''My job's to get the side ready to play - that's all I'll be concentrating on. If it's a talking point in New Zealand, let it be so.'' with AAP