“I’ll have to watch out for him with my peripheral vision. He’s the silent assassin. He’s carrying on Steve Matai’s legacy.”
While Taufua has pole-axed rivals all year, Chee Kam has emerged a genuine match-winner with late tries to seal victory for the Tigers on a couple of occasions, including a long-range effort against Souths.
The pair have enjoyed an injury-free campaign and have come a long way since the days of sharing a Belrose mansion, which was leased by Kieran Foran’s mother. Chee Kam claims Taufua was a ”clean freak” and would erupt ”if a shoe was out of place”.
Taufua quipped about Chee Kam this week: “I’m tight with him. But we’re not tight this week. He’s been winning a couple for the Tigers, so I’ll try to take him out early.”
The Tigers are desperate for a win and know that if they lose on the northern beaches they will be required to win their final three games against Newcastle, St George Illawarra and Cronulla to be any chance of a first finals campaign since 2011.
Chee Kam made his debut for the Sea Eagles in 2014. He played five NRL games for them over two seasons and likened the atmosphere at Brookvale, which is just down the road from his Collaroy home, to Leichhardt Oval.
The 27-year-old has locked down a starting back-row spot after beginning the year as a Tigers super sub.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire was understood to have given the players an absolute bake before training on Monday after their shock loss to Canterbury. While Paul Momirovski missed a conversion on full-time to force the match into golden point, Maguire knew his players should never have let the game go down to the wire.
Tommy Talau, the son of former Canterbury and New Zealand centre Willie Talau, will make his debut for the Tigers and will oppose Moses Suli, the youngster who was axed by the Tigers for not meeting professional standards.
The Tigers will need to get the job done without Robbie Farah, whose season appears over because of a broken leg. Officials will give the club legend every chance to make a miraculous return. Skipper Moses Mbye will also be sidelined with a hip-flexor injury.
Ryan Matterson has enjoyed the move to the middle and was the Tigers best last weekend when he ran for more than 220m and made 35 tackles. Part of the extended NSW Origin squad this year, Matterson said he had the utmost respect for Thursday night’s lock forward opposite Jake Trbojevic.
“I told ‘Madge’ I want to get some early ball and that was the best way to do it, so lock here I come,” said Matterson, in reference to the move from the edge.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.