Kiwi Tamou’s ten minutes for the NSW Blues
Us New South Welshmen are a tired old bunch. The reason we are so critical and ruthless on our mighty Blues is simple. We want success. We want the fire and the blood and most importantly, we want to win.
Ironically, it might just be a Kiwi born prop that brings back the pain for Queensland.
James Tamou is sitting in the bowels of Etihad Stadium. A Blues trainer hurriedly rushes through the dressing room like a cat on a hot tin roof and repeatedly tells the players that they have ten minutes.
Tamou hears it and feels the adrenaline rushing through his body.
Across from him is Paul Gallen. The undisputed leader of the team. A warrior that thirsts for Blues supremacy. Gallen looks back at him and Tamou can see his leader’s eyes rolling like a poker machine feature. The captain is in his own world too and is ready for another State of Origin war.
The North Queensland Cowboy has never felt butterflies like this. He leans back in his seat and tries to take a deep breath. Next to him is Greg Bird who has his earphones in and is mumbling something repeatedly under his breath. He can’t make out what Bird is saying.
All the Youtube videos and stories from old players can’t prepare you for this.
The giant rookie gets to his feet, takes his jersey from its hook and quickly slides it on as Glenn Stewart scurries by him. It really is all happening now.
The muffled roars from the crowd are coming through the walls as the ground announcer reads out the sides.
All the nerves feel like they are going to explode from his stomach and he rushes for the toilet. But as he passes a mirror, he stops. He can now see himself in a sky blue jersey. One of the most famous jerseys the game has ever had.
“It’s a huge thing for me, I guess you could say that I’m living the dream” Tamou told the Townsville Bulletin recently.
His dream could be Queensland’s nightmare.
“But (my idol was) definitely ‘Blocker’ (Roach) – he just didn’t care who was in his road – he just ran it straight and that’s what I loved about it.”
Tamou sees Steve Roach, one of the great Blues, peering back at him from across the room. He knows Roach is with him tonight.
Time is quickly running out and coach Ricky Stuart quietly exits through a side door. His work is done for now. Gallen and Luke Lewis call the players into a huddle in the middle of the room as the two minute warning echoes through the halls.
Across the way stands the biggest test Tamou may ever have. The seemingly indestructible Queenslanders. Like the Roman Empire, they must fall. They have to.
Tamou joins his comrades in the huddle and puts his giant arms around Todd Carney and Akuila Uate as Gallen barks orders. Its all a blur.
And then it hits him. He is running out onto the grass of Etihad Stadium. What happens next is up to him.
So what is it going to take for you to believe Tamou is worthy of our jersey? A man-of-the-match performance and a New South Wales victory would make him a blue for life.
Make no mistake about it. If a brawl breaks out in those opening stages, just like Arthur Beetson punched the living Jesus out of his Parramatta mate Mick Cronin, Tamou will be hitting everything.
Including Cowboys team-mates Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston.
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.
The Roar needs an editor! Tristan is off to tackle a new role with us over on Techly.com.au, which means we're looking for someone to fill his boots. Love sport, know digital publishing (yes, that does mean being a bit of computer guru) and keen to work with the team in Newcastle? If you're a proven superstar, or someone on the rise with a record to back it up, we want to hear from you. Apply now!
We're also looking for freelance writers who know tech, gadgets, games and trends inside and out to join us on this new adventure. Get in touch if you've got the goods.