9 hours ago - 4 Likes
Skando's mine - Rauhihi
Kiwi prop Paul Rauhihi has vowed to dominate opposing hardman John Skandalis in an effort to demoralise the Wests Tigers' young players in Sunday's National Rugby League grand final.
The North Queensland Cowboys enforcer turned up the heat on a conciliatory build-up to the Telstra Stadium final by targeting Skandalis, reasoning if he can shut down their forward leader the Tigers could fold.
Playing in his final NRL match before heading to the Warrington Wolves in England's Super League, the 32-year-old made no bones about picking out Skandalis.
"That's the funny thing with forwards, you've got to get on top of the bloke everyone is looking for to get them out of trouble. I'm sure Shane Webcke at the Broncos is a target for opposition teams," Rauhihi said.
"If I get on top of him , it will make the rest of them wonder.
"Out of all their forwards, he runs the hardest and he likes to break the line every time he runs the ball."
Rauhihi has been a tower of strength for the Cowboys in his farewell season as pack leader - particularly since the untimely suspension of Queensland State of Origin front rower Carl Webb.
He also led the Cowboys when regular skipper Travis Norton was sidelined by injury earlier in the season and took over the reins in the second half of last weekend's shock 29-0 elimination of minor premiers Parramatta in their preliminary final.
While the Porirua-born 117kg behemoth downplayed his leadership qualities, coach Graham Murray praised the experience Rauhihi had brought to the side during his two years in Townsville.
"He's been sensational for us. He came here when no one else wanted to and he's led from the front," Murray said. Murray said Rauhihi and Webb's front row replacement Shane Tronc would again be asked to grab the early ascendancy against a side buoyant after inflicting a 50-6 thrashing the last time the sides met in the first week of finals on September 9.
"I thought the big fellas played very well for us last weekend and when they do that, it gives our little blokes the chance to open up."