REPLAY: Payne Cup Ignatius Park vs Kirwan
HE IS the Bears go to weapon in attack, but Ignatius Park College have a game plan to nullify Jeremiah Nanai.
The Cowboys-contracted backrower has been one of the stars of the Aaron Payne Cup, leading the race for the inaugural Michael Morgan Medal.
He is lethal in attack with his swift footwork and powerful ball running, but it is what he does after the run that Ignatius Park coach Steve Lansley has identified as key to shutting down.
"They give him early ball and he gets really fast play the balls off it and then they work off the back of that," Lansley said.
"It all comes off his play the ball speed. They like to move the ball quickly and then set up their outside speed men in open space.
"We need to get Jeremiah and all their forwards on the ground and on their backs, we need to win the battle of the ruck and slow it down.
"Defence is where we will win this game, particularly at the start of the game. We can't let them get out to a big lead. If we can keep the scores close with 15 minutes to go, we will run over the top of them."
Lansley likened Nanai's impact to that of Cowboys bulldozer Jason Taumalolo, and said it was about making him do more work to blunt his impact.
"It is similar to what good teams do to Taumalolo, if they make him make 30 tackles, his impact with the ball is lessened," Lansley said.
"We need to do the same to Jeremiah. If we can run at him and get him to make 10-15 tackles we will tire him out."
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But Nanai has welcomed the challenge and said the added focus of the Ignatius Park side was only going to fire him up for their grudge match.
The second-rower was quick to point out Kirwan's many other attacking weapons including wingers Dudley Dotoi and Jesse Yallop as well as fullback Tyreece Woods.
"Knowing the Iggy boys identify me as a big threat, it's a compliment because we have a lot of great talent (in our side)," Nanai said.
REPLAY: Walters Cup - Kirwan SHS vs Ignatius Park College
"To be singled out it makes me want to go harder in my game.
"It would be good if they had a plan to try and stop me as I love having good competition and a hard challenge."
As for any extra defensive work, the mullet-clad teenager said bring it on.
"I like to think my defensive game makes a difference for the Bears as I try to analyse the plays and be in the right place at the right time," he said.
"Our coach (Todd Wilson) just said to go out there and be a leader and lead by my actions for the boys. It is going to be a hell of a game and I can't wait."
The Aaron Payne Cup clash will be played at the Townsville District Junior Rugby League grounds on Kern Brothers Drive in Kirwan. With COVID-19 limitations on crowd numbers it will be restricted to immediate family of players.
But the Bulletin has the best seat in the house with our livestream beaming all of the action onto your computer or mobile.
Ignatius Park v Kirwan High
Cowboys Challenge - 3.45pm
Aaron Payne Cup - 4.45pm