Griffith derby a battle of the big boys

Group 20 rugby league

BLACK and Whites captain-coach David Milne has told his players to forget the hype surrounding the Waratah Tigers' bustling forwards ahead of tomorrow night's Griffith derby.

Milne said he is confident his men can tame what is fast becoming one of Group 20's most feared packs and regain local bragging rights at Exies Oval.

"They're big but we can control them," he told The Area News.

"If we can stop their momentum we'll control the game - that's the way it goes."

Milne dismissed advice from rival coaches to let the likes of Waratahs powerhouse Michael Ioapo dominate up the middle and attack the fringes instead.

DPC skipper Jay Little last week wished "good luck" to any team that wished to take on the 'Tahs at their own game after drawing 36-all with the Griffith outfit - but Milne was having none of that idea, saying Black and Whites props Jericho Tanuvasa and Junior Mataa are more than capable of matching them.

"That's the game of rugby league. If you can't handle getting hit by big fellas, don't do it," he said.

"If you can't compete up the middle you may as well give up the game.

"To win games you've got to beat your opposite number so I'll be telling my boys that their job won't change."

Tanuvasa is still under an injury cloud after taking an ankle complaint into the Black and Whites' 28-18 loss to Yenda on Saturday but is still considered likely to play.

CANNONBALL: Waratahs prop Michael Ioapo prepares to steamroll a Bidgee Hurricanes player in the Paul Kelly Memorial Shield earlier this year.

CANNONBALL: Waratahs prop Michael Ioapo prepares to steamroll a Bidgee Hurricanes player in the Paul Kelly Memorial Shield earlier this year.

The Waratahs have availabilty concerns of their own, with star fullback Johnny Teleaga in doubt after landing awkwardly on his chest against DPC on Sunday.

Lorenzo Tafili (hamstring) didn't face the Roosters and is a 50-50 proposition while Steve Wilson (knee) is set to stay sidelined.

The 'Tahs beat the Black and Whites late last month in the Doug Alpen Memorial Shield clash on Good Friday but captain-coach Kose Lelei said the draw with the Roosters was the "wake-up call" his side needed.

Despite that, he remains surprised with how quickly things have come together for the 10-time premiers.

"We're slowly building that bond between everyone and that's the main thing," Lelei said.

"I thought it was going to take a little bit longer for everyone to gel but it's so far, so good."

Milne said the Black and Whites were nearing their best football after letting victory slip against the Blueheelers on Saturday night.

Griffith led for most of the day but were headed in the last 10 minutes by Yenda.

"I think we should have won it," he said.

"We sort of gave it away at the end there and stopped doing what we were supposed to be doing.

"There was a lot of dropped ball and they had a lot more possession than us - it felt like they did anyway.

"It's little things that we've got to work on but I don't think we're too far off it."


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