James Tamou says he has erased his mental demons and has backed his surgically-repaired neck to withstand the rigours of State of Origin.
After a timid opening to the season, the NSW front-rower has been a tower of strength for North Queensland over the past month and appears to be building nicely for Wednesday’s Origin opener in Sydney.
Tamou admits to being down on form and confidence in the opening rounds after undergoing surgery on his neck in the off-season.
The 26-year-old originally suffered the injury against Canterbury last year and at the time complained he could not feel his left arm.
He returned after a month for the Cowboys’s finals run, only to rule himself out of Australia’s Four Nations campaign to have surgery in an effort to avoid long-term problems.
He was passed fit for the Cowboys’ season kick-off but found himself suffering self doubt after working his way back from the unnerving injury.
“I’ve marked it down as just confidence in my body,” he said in the Blues’ camp at Coffs Harbour on Saturday.
“When I was getting the surgery done I was a bit wary of getting hit and getting hurt and whether the same pain was going to happen again.
“But it hasn’t happened since the surgery.
“I’m pretty confident in my body that I can have a bit of heavy contact and I’ll come out alright.”
While he withstood the rigours of the first nine rounds of the NRL, he acknowledged the intensity would lift again for State of Origin, but had faith his body would hold strong.
“I’ve had some pretty heavy hits this year already and I got up feeling good,” he said.
“Origin is a step higher but I’ve just got to take my confidence into that game.”