James Tamou has no regrets about turning his back on New Zealand to represent Australia.
Cowboys and Kangaroos prop James Tamou admits Australia was a little rusty in its opening hitout but says he is looking forward to taking on Cowboys teammates Ashton and Tariq Sims when the Kangaroos meet Fiji on Saturday.
Tamou told NRL.com that with some players in the squad not having taken the field in seven or eight weeks, a warm-up game prior to meeting England “might not have gone astray”.
There are also aspects of his own game that will require a tune-up before Saturday but Tamou insists the side will be ready for a Fiji outfit he said looked “very willing” in a fiery win over Ireland a week ago.
Asked if he will go looking for the Sims brothers, Tamou is diplomatic. “If you go out of your game to do that you don’t play as well, so I’ll go out there to play my normal game,” he says.
But surely if the opportunity presents itself?
“If there comes a chance where one of their ribs are exposed I might come a bit harder than usual,” he laughs.
“But they’ll give it their all and they’re the type of blokes at the end of the game they’ll have a laugh about it and we’ll carry on.
“They’re both pretty passionate people and passionate players, they love to represent where they’re from and their family and we’ll just have to be ready for them.”
Tamou says the one question he had for Ashton Sims before the players left to join their respective national sides was whether Fiji had any form of haka or war dance it performed before games. The answer? “He was kind of hoping they don’t, because we all know he’s a bit of a character and we probably wouldn’t be able to hold a serious face!”
Apart from the Sims brothers, Tamou nominates Fiji’s speedy backline (Akuila Uate, Marika Koroibete, Wes and Kevin Naiqama and Sisa Waqa) as a key threat for Australia.
“We’ve seen all those players [create] something from nothing in the NRL, they’re very dangerous and if we let them play they’ll run over us so this is not just a walkover game,” he says.
“Jayson Bukuya in the back row there is a class act player to look out for and has that power some of the big Polynesian boys possess so we’ll have to look out for that too.”
For Tamou, it is little over a year and a half since he had to decide whether to declare himself eligible for the country of his birth in New Zealand or his adopted homeland of Australia, for whom he is now a first choice starting prop with half a dozen tests under his belt, playing in his first World Cup. Reflecting on the situation, Tamou says he has no regrets.
“Mate it’s funny how my situation has all panned out but I’ve got absolutely no regrets and I’m happy to be playing here with a good bunch of blokes,” he says.
“It’s definitely something that’s progressed through the last couple of years that have come to my surprise but like I said I’m happy with my position and where I am and I’m hoping for my first World Cup that we can take it out.”