For many reasons, big James Tamou should be shaping up for a career-best game tomorrow night.
The NSW Blues front-rower is returning to league’s biggest stage after a dreadful month, which saw him charged with a serious drink-drive offence and a two match penalty handed down by the NRL.
I read he didn’t think he deserved selection for the Origin decider but he’ll be running out tomorrow night, determined to repay Laurie’s Daley’s faith in his ability.
Tamou has shown genuine remorse for his actions and knows he has a lot of ground to make up with his NSW teammates for missing Origin 2 when they copped a 20 point drubbing from the Maroons.
He also realises his responsibilities to the game and its fans – young and old – and a five-star performance will surely assist in his redemption. He let lots of people down badly and has been given a chance to repay them in kind.
There are other motivational factors that might see James fire up like never before at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night.
Uppermost is the leadership role he can play in the absence of Blues skipper Paul Gallen. I’d love to see him hurtling into the line, spurring on Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods and Co.
He was tremendous in the opening game and the Blues are going to need him to perform even better against a Maroons pack that was clearly superior from the opening minutes at Suncorp Stadium.
Tamou says he would especially love to be a part of the NSW team that broke Queensland’s phenomenal series-winning sequence and even though they are underdogs, I honestly believe they can do it.
The crowd factor will be crucial tomorrow night. The stadium will be a sea of blue and the NSW boys should be able to feed off the energy created by another sell-out gallery.
Robbie Farah has been handed the captaincy for this huge game but I doubt we’ll see a different playing style from NSW. Laurie Daley laid down the plays he wants weeks ago and he won’t be changing anything at this late stage.
It is imperative the Blues start at the very top of their game and rattle the Maroons from the opening whistle. Anything less and I fear Queensland will be going home with crowing rights for yet another season.
This Maroons outfit contains some of the best players the code has ever seen and it is going to take a mighty effort to deny them victory.
But I had the honour of representing NSW and there is no shortage of blue blood in my veins. I cannot tip against them, and I’ll be trying to will them to victory if that’s possible.
Our forward pack is certainly capable of laying the foundations and I can see it happening if James Tamou plays the game of his life.
NSW by 4.