Jason Taumalolo says Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has only heaped pressure on himself by talking up their looming heavyweight confrontation in Saturday's NRL preliminary final.
Waerea-Hargreaves set the tone early this week by singling out North Queensland powerhouse Taumalolo as the man standing between his Sydney Roosters and a shot at the title and declaring "bring it on".
Taumalolo refused to take a step back on Wednesday, welcoming the opportunity to take on his New Zealand compatriot on his own turf.
"I don't really pay attention too much to it, but it's one thing saying it and it's another doing it on the field. I think we'll find out Saturday night," Taumalolo said.
"He's put some accountability on himself to single me out, but that only puts a lot of pressure on himself.
"I hope for Jared's sake that he comes out and does it."
Taumalolo said Waerea-Hargreaves' boldness made him one of the toughest props in the NRL, and a strong chance to be recalled to the Kiwis' side for the World Cup.
"Just his aggression alone puts him among the best front-rowers in the game," he said.
"He'll be pushing for a World Cup squad and hopefully try and put the Roosters into another grand final yet again."
Cowboys coach Paul Green said others had called out Taumalolo before - and failed.
"(Taumalolo) said a couple of comments before a Bulldogs game and I said, 'You better back it up', and his simple reply was, 'When haven't I?'," Green said.
"I'm not too worried about that. I'll back Jase any day. But, in saying that, I've got a lot of respect for Jared, too. He's a good player. It should be a great battle."
After averaging a competition-high 193 metres per game in the regular season - 20 more than the next best in Paul Gallen - Taumalolo has upped his game to more than 230 metres in the finals.
He averaged 160 last year when he shared the Dally M medal.
Taumalolo credited his improvement to a need to step up in the absence of injured co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.
"The coaching staff have helped me a lot but I think most of it's comes down to myself," he said.
"A lot of people, with Matt Scott and JT out, pretty much put a lot of responsibility on myself after both boys got injured.
"I was a bit of a take-a-backseat type player and go with the flow.
"But this year, it's brought a different side of me. I'm outspoken a little bit more and I try and have my say every now and then, but I have to go out there and back it up on the field."