Rookies ready for Gidley, Tahu - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rookies ready for Gidley, Tahu

By Jim Morton 13/06/2004 04:41:42 PM Comments (0)

Queensland Origin rookie Billy Slater rates his and debutant Willie Tonga's job of marking the "world's best centre-wing partnership" of Matt Gidley and Timana Tahu as the toughest challenge in rugby league.

But Slater, who has tapped the inside knowledge of Gidley and Tahu's Newcastle coach, Maroons mentor Michael Hagan, promises to be a handful himself for NSW in game two at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

The young speed merchant revealed he would break free from the safety-first game he delivered in his interstate debut by sniping around the rucks and running off Queensland halves Scott Prince and Darren Lockyer.

"I'll try and get a bit more involved, try and sniff around Locky and Princey a little bit more and help the forwards out with a few dummy-half runs," said the Melbourne fullback, who turns 21 on Friday.

Slater has only one match under his belt on the wing, the 9-8 loss to the Blues in Sydney, and has never played with fellow 20-year-old Tonga.

Newcastle pair Gidley and Tahu have had six seasons together at the Knights, played a combined total of 16 Origins and 15 Tests on the right side of the field.

"They're the best centre-wing partnership in the world so we'll have our hands full out there but I'm sure we'll cope," he said.

"Tahu has been out with an injury for a while but he is probably the best winger running around at the moment so we're going to have to be on our game to keep them occupied, especially with Freddie (Brad Fittler) giving them the balls that he can deliver.

"They didn't get much ball out wide last time but I'm sure I'll be tested this time," he added, conceding there were no more difficult tasks in the game.

"We're trying to get a combination and that's working well."

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