Tahu faces up to Inglis battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tahu faces up to Inglis battle

21/05/2010 06:39:06 PM Comments (0)

It's the most daunting assignment in rugby league - trying to stop a rampant Greg Inglis.

But if NSW centre Timana Tahu was worried about going head to head with the Queensland Origin star on Wednesday night, he sure wasn't letting on.

Having been cleared to play in Origin I after overcoming an ankle injury, Tahu on Friday finally began facing up to the prospect of trying to contain Inglis, who with eight tries in ten games has helped propel the Maroons to four straight series wins.

But Tahu - playing his first game for NSW since 2006 following a stint in rugby union - played down the one-on-one tussle.

"We probably won't meet each other (that often), I'll probably tackle him four or five times in an 80 minute game," Tahu said.

"Usually it will be Jarryd Hayne outside of me wedging in - that's how most edges tackle now - the centre's got a backrower or a fullback and the winger takes care of the centre and the winger." But those four or five tackles could prove crucial in the final wash-up, with Inglis having demonstrated time and again he only needs half gaps to blow a game wide open in a matter of minutes.

Who will forget his effort in last year's series opener, when he bagged a double and shoved off Kurt Gidley with a vicious fend to set up Darius Boyd for the match-sealer?

"When he gets the ball he is one of the most dangerous centres in the game - I've got to give him that respect and not tick off when I'm tired," Tahu said.

"There's times where I might be tired and he might be fresh and he gets the ball and anything can happen.

"(But) my whole game's not going to be planned around him - there's a lot of things that you've got to do other than just worry about your own man." Tahu said he was unsure of his role when young gun Jamal Idris is given his chance off the bench, though it is likely he will be shifted out to the wing with Idris an out and out centre.

"I've played wing before ... I don't really care where I play as long as I'm in the Blues side," Tahu said.

Tahu's worst fears were put to bed on Friday when NSW medical officials deemed his sprained ankle had healed sufficiently for him to play on Wednesday.

And when Tahu runs out on Wednesday night he will complete a journey none of his contemporaries managed, with the 29-year-old the first of the 'code jumpers' to make it all the way back to rugby league's toughest arena.

"I'd seen blokes like Matty Rogers and Wendell Sailor come back and just stay at club level football - for me that was something in the back of my mind," Tahu said of reclaiming an Origin jumper.

"I had to train the hardest I've ever trained my whole career and push myself to the limits which I haven't really done before.

"I would have been shattered (to be ruled out), it probably would have been the worst thing that's ever happened to me.

"Coming back from rugby and trying to prove myself to everyone that I can still play top level football and play with the best was one of my goals - to get it taken away from me would have been shattering."

As little as two days ago, Tahu thought he was no chance, particularly with coach Craig Bellamy adamant he wanted everyone training by Saturday.

It's why, despite being named in the side on Monday night, it wasn't until he was passed fit on Friday that Tahu was fully able to celebrate the enormity of his achievement.

Many thought the dual international was kidding himself when - after two years in rugby union - he stated his desire to return to NSW and Test sides in rugby league.

But not Tahu, who claimed others who had come back to the NRL had been happy to settle for lesser goals.

"You see a lot of players that come back from either England or cross codes, they say they just want to play a grand final for their club and don't think about playing rep football," Tahu said.

"But for me, it's something I take pride in. You do want to play good football for your club, but the ultimate goal for a professional sportsman is to play at the highest level.

"For me that was the challenge that I had to take - I did say I wanted to play rep football again and I'm living it at the moment."

The reality of life as a NSW representative will get a whole lot tougher on Saturday when Tahu takes part in his first full training session, with his only other recent action being a fitness test on Thursday.

Tahu said he didn't expect the ankle to stop him from doing anything between now and the game, with his back-up Trent Barrett released from Blues camp to play with Cronulla on Saturday night.

"I had to wait to see if my ankle swelled up," Tahu said of Friday's clearance.

"To me it was just confirmation in my head that my ankle was right.

"It will probably be a little bit sore but it's improving every day ... when I ran yesterday it was probably the best I've felt for the last two weeks."

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