James Tamou admits Andrew Fififta’s axing from Australia’s World Cup-winning team has fired him up for Friday’s rugby league Test with New Zealand.
James Tamou says Andrew Fifita’s axing from Australia’s World Cup-winning line-up has also given him a jolt ahead of Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test in Sydney.
The New Zealand-born front-rower admits his own NRL form for North Queensland has been down this season and seeing Fifita relegated on Monday to this weekend’s City-Country fixture was a wake-up call.
“With Fifita not being part of it, being dropped, I’m more relieved. I was next with the way that I think that I’m going,” Tamou told AAP.
“It just goes to show that you can’t just walk into this team.
“Fifita, I think, is still one of the best front-rowers going and for him to be dropped like that is a sort of blessing, I guess, and I’m not going to take it any other way.
“I’m going to go on Friday night and just rip in.”
The former Junior Kiwi will line up for his ninth Test for the Kangaroos after switching allegiances to Australia in 2012.
Tamou, 26, says it’s inevitable he’ll encounter some lingering resentment from New Zealand fans.
“I probably would still cop it, but it being in Sydney probably helps,” he said.
“I’ve been around it for the last three years now so it’s easy to rub off now and just get on with the game.”
As a New Zealand native, Tamou believes being branded a team of nobodies will only inspire the Kiwi underdogs at Allianz Stadium.
“It just puts fuel on the fire for them,” Tamou said.
“They may have picked a side with debutants here and there, but the side they have picked, the players are actually in form at the moment and their best players going.
“So it’s not a mug team by any matters, but that just puts more pressure on us.”