No regrets, but Tamou expects some heat
Kangaroos debutant James Tamou says he will never regret his decision to wear the green and gold, despite already copping some criticism for turning his back on New Zealand.
New Zealand-born Tamou officially pledged his allegiance to Australia and NSW last week, immediately raising the ire of those across the Tasman.
But the idea to represent the Blues was first planted in Tamou’s head by coach Ricky Stuart last year.
And he admits it ignited a fire in him which burned even as he was selected in the New Zealand Four Nations train-on squad.
“Last year when Stuart gave me a ring (to inquire about Tamou’s Origin availability), I said no,” Tamou said.
“Then I watched Origin last year and was thinking to myself ‘geez, that could be me’. And that’s where the flame ignited.
“And the flame was still there heading into the last stages of the NRL.
“It’s always been there and as soon as Stuart gave me that second phone call (this year), I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I was keen to do it.
“… when I made that train-on squad, it was still in my head. Now that I’ve made the decision, I’m happy with my decision. I’m not looking back at all.”
And while he knows he’ll come in for some special attention from the fearsome pack led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Frank Pritchard, the monster prop says he is ready to take the Kiwis – and the Haka – front on.
“It will be tough. But I know I’m ready,” he said on Monday.
“I’ve had this situation in my head and I know I’ll be ready to take the Kiwi boys on. I know I’ll do the green and gold proud.”
Traditionally, New Zealand teams and fans have shown little sympathy towards those who defect to play for other nations, regardless of the circumstances.
Former Queensland fullback Karmichael Hunt, born in Auckland, felt the full force of Pritchard’s shoulder on his Australian debut in 2006 in an incident that forced the then 19-year-old from the field on a stretcher.
“I saw that from Pritchard. I’m expecting the same, about five or six black jumpers rushing up on me,” Tamou said.© AAP 2013
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