An emotional James Tamou has admitted his “heart dropped” the moment he realised his 304-game NRL career could be over due to an ugly send off.
Wests Tigers skipper Tamou was sent for abusing referee Ben Cummins in the dying stages of the club’s worst loss in history on Saturday night.
The Tigers were belted 72-6 by the Roosters and Tamou was marched for calling Cummins “f***ing incompetant” after he missed a knock on.
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Tamou is off contract at the end of the season and with just two games left he could spend them suspended.
If Taou cops a similar ban to Storm star Brandon Smith – who got three games for calling a referee Adam Gee a “cheating bastard” last month – then his NRL career is likely over.
“Yeah I didn’t think of that until someone just mentioned it and my heart dropped,” Tamou said in his post-match press conference.
“But I’ve got to be accountable for my actions. It would be a tough way to go, for a game that has given me a lot and I’ve dedicated my body to, so yeah it’s just something I’ll have to deal with.”
Tamou – who insisted on fronting the media – used his opening comments to deliver an impassioned apology.
“First of all I apologise for my actions towards Ben Cummins, they do a terrific job,” he said.
“The frustrations got the better of me, the emotions got the better of me. I’ll wear any criticism and be accountable for my actions.
“The actions aren’t acceptable towards the jersey, the club, the players trying their backsides off.
“I took the easy way out and I’ve got to wear that all week now, wear the criticism, I’ve got four kids at home and that’s how they’re going to see how their dad acts.
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“So I’ll wear the criticism all week, I have to be accountable for my actions because the actions aren’t acceptable and I’ve let everyone down.
“I’ve let myself down, I’m embarrassed. I’ve let a lot of people down.
“Instead of looking myself in the mirror and being accountable, I took it out on the wrong people and again that’s taking the easy way out. I’m obviously shattered.”
Tamou vowed to out Cummins to apologise after his press conference.
The premiership-winning forward said he wants to play next year but is “a realist” about his NRL prospects.
“It’s a great game, I love this game and give everything to this game and however many games you play, it’s one of those games where you can’t walk around and think you’ve done it all because you’ll get left behind,” Tamou said.
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“You’ve always got to be a student of the game and I feel like I keep on learning and that’s what I love about the game.
“You give everything to this game. You don’t just turn up to training then go home and switch off. You’re a 24-hour player, you go home, recover, you eat, I love everything about that.
“I love dedicating my body to that, I’ve done it for so long and it’d be great to go around again but I’m also a bit of a pessimist and if that time comes where I’ve got to hang up the boots I’ll be a realist and go out and find a job.”
Interim Tigers coach Brett Kimmorley said it was “extremely hard” to see Tamou hurting, but praised the veteran for owning up to his behaviour.
“Jimmy was the first person to put his hand up and say I want to come and do the press conference and be accountable,” Kimmorley said.
“That’s more the stature of the man than 300 games, it’s a great person. He said I’m going to go front them and put my hand up and he’s done really well to be strong enough to do that.”
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