Michaels ready for Kenny-Dowall - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Michaels ready for Kenny-Dowall

By Wayne Heming 23/09/2010 04:05:23 PM Comments (0)

Three months after his confidence was totally shot, reborn Gold Coast centre Steve Michaels faces one of the toughest defensive jobs in the NRL - closing down Sydney Roosters strike weapon Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

Former Bronco Michaels has turned his stuttering NRL career around since being released by Brisbane, re-establishing himself at left centre with a Titans team just one win away from contesting an historic grand final in their fourth season.

It's a credit to the 23-year-old, who has courageously fought back from a several serious injuries - including a knee reconstruction - after receiving a lifeline from the Titans in June.

Centre partner Clinton Toopi, who has also resurrected his career on the Coast this season, says Michaels is more than up to stopping the player he describes as the "Kiwi GI" because of his ability to score spectacular Greg Inglis-like tries.

"Steve is more than capable of handling Kenny-Dowall," said Toopi, dismissing any suggestion of a positional swap because of his powerful defence.

"He's handled (Brent) Tate and a lot of class centres, both sides have, and it's fair to say we've done a good job.

"There's no reason to change things for the sake of one player. We've got to do it as a team."

Toopi said Kenny-Dowall was reaping the rewards of playing outside Roosters halves Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce.

"He's found a position that he likes. They've had him on the wing for the last few years and now we're seeing the best of him," he said.

"Because he's such a big unit, it's quite deceiving how fast he is for such a big lad.

"When you get somebody with that kind of build, they're hard to contain. It's like trying to stop Greg Inglis, you need five blokes to bring him down.

"He's no different. He's big, he's lanky, he's got speed and a big fend and he can step, he's pretty much the complete centre package."

Toopi said while someone like Israel Folau was difficult to defend in the air, Kenny-Dowall's was more dangerous with the ball in hand.

"Israel is a wonderful player with great aerial skills," he said. "When you have player who is one of te best jumpers in the world, you are going to utilise him in that area as much as you can which is how Brisbane played him.

"With Kenny-Dowall, the Roosters halves are able to shift it wide and get him in one-on-one situations on the edges where he's most dangerous."

Shutting down the Roosters centre won't be easy, especially with Michaels conceding 16 centimetres and 10 kilos to Kenny-Dowall.

Kenny-Dowall's devastating form has reaped 13 tries in his past nine games - including the 100th-minute touchdown against the Wests Tigers which kept the Roosters' run at the title alive.

On his most recent visit to Suncorp Stadium in July, the Brisbane-born, New Zealand three-quarter scored four tries against the Broncos.

"If he steps one player, we just have to have faith in the player on the inside to stop him," said Toopi.

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