The absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has not stopped resurgent Kangaroos forward Sam Thaiday planning more fireworks in Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test in Brisbane.
Thaiday was denied a re-match with the Sydney Roosters forward he bullied a fortnight ago after Waerea-Hargreaves was not considered by Kiwi selectors due to injury.
However, Thaiday reckons Waerea-Hargreaves’ fellow New Zealand forwards can expect more of the same at Suncorp Stadium.
Thaiday has reinvented himself as a Broncos enforcer since being benched and told to play for a new contract by Wayne Bennett at the start of the NRL season.
He capped a remarkable return by earning a back-row starting berth for a Test match which will put Australia’s world No.1 ranking on the line.
But that has not eased Thaiday’s urge to throw his sometimes criticised weight around for Australia, even with Waerea-Hargreaves absent.
Thaiday laughed when asked if was going to take some “angry pills” before the Test.
“If you are referring to the incident I think you are, that was part of the gameplan,” he said of his NRL stoush with Waerea-Hargreaves.
“We had to get amongst their forwards.
“That’s what you want every weekend, you want that one-on-one battle.
“You want that battle between our forward pack and theirs.
“Whoever wins that usually wins the game.”
Asked who he would target now that Waerea-Hargreaves wasn’t playing, Thaiday laughed: “Isn’t he?
“Look, it will probably be the same type of thing (as his NRL stoush with Roosters) on Friday night.
“They’ve got some great players in Jesse Bromwich, who I think is one of the best front-rowers going around at the moment.
“So that’s a big task – try and get the upper hand on those blokes.”
Apart from being an enforcer, Thaiday will also double as a bodyguard for Kangaroos halfback Cooper Cronk.
“My job now is to try and hold defensive shape, make sure blokes like Kieran Foran and (Shaun) Johnson don’t carve us up too much and also to try and protect Coops,” he said.
“I am sure they will send some big boys Coops’ way.
“We’ve got two rookies on our right side as well (debutants Will Chambers and Josh Dugan).
“I am sure they will send a lot of traffic our way.”
However, no task seems too daunting for Thaiday after the hurdles he has already cleared this season.
Thaiday admitted he could have sulked after an honest talk with returning Broncos coach Bennett at the start of the season.
The message was sobering for a 12-year Broncos man – contract talks would be suspended until he had shown his worth on the field.
“Yeah it hurt, but I didn’t want to stew on it,” he said.
“This shows if you work hard on the field then the rewards come.
“That’s all I am trying to do, take a bit of pride in what I do for the team.”