Two very-much underrated forwards do battle on Friday night with Sauaso Sue and Leilani Latu lining-up in a crucial clash for their respective sides.
Both prop forwards have been in stellar form this season, proving key men in their imposing packs as Penrith and Wests Tigers fight for a place in the top eight.
For Sue, 2016 has been arguably the Samoan International’s best yet, with consistent performances earning him a starting role in the front row alongside skipper Aaron Woods.
The 24-year-old has improved his average running metres from 83.1 per match in 2015, to a whopping 100.9 per game this season.
Latu, on the other hand, has been a real find for the Panthers and possesses great ball-playing skills for a big man; as shown in his five try-assists this season (the same amount as his halfback Nathan Cleary).
The St John Eagles junior has been playing big minutes of late, usually reaching above the 50-minute mark and making good yardage – most notably his 168-metre effort three weeks ago against the Warriors.
While much of the focus will be on other clashes such as Luke Brooks v Nathan Cleary, Mitchell Moses v Bryce Cartwright and David Nofoaluma v Josh Mansour; it’s the battle of the big men that will lay the platform for whoever comes out on top in this one.
With experienced big men Woods and Trent Merrin also leading that argument, it is however the match-up between their quiet-achieving teammates Sue and Latu that is set to prove critical in the Round 24 clash.
It’s a fairly simple one for this category, as Sue and Latu have met just once previously.
It was the Round 17 clash earlier this year, with Sue getting the win over his opposite, making 121 metres in the 34-26 victory at ANZ Stadium.
That’s the only time Latu has come up against Wests Tigers in his relatively short career, however Sue has played Penrith a total of three time – with a two win and one loss record.
Sue leads Wests Tigers into unfamiliar territory…
Sue is one of just five players in tomorrow’s squad that played in Wests Tigers last NRL game at Pepper Stadium in 2013.
The Macquarie Fields junior played alongside Woods, Nofoaluma, Tim Simona and Ava Seumanufagai in the 20-18 victory.
In fact, it’ll be the first time that six Wests Tigers players will play an NRL match at Pepper Stadium – Jordan Rankin, Joshua Addo-Carr, Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks, Josh Aloiai and Kyle Lovett.
What he said…
“It’s massive for us – we need to win this to keep our finals chance alive,” Sue said. “We are really positive around the Club at the moment, we only lost by one-point on the weekend and we had some positives to come out of that game.
“We are just taking it game by game now, but we also have that finals dream in mind.
“Most of us haven’t played finals, only a handful of us, so I’d love to experience that and our young boys are trying our best at training to try to achieve that,” he said.