Even the King of Tonga can have a bad day
Cowboys dynamo Jason Taumalolo is lacking confidence after returning prematurely from a knee injury but has vowed to lead North Queensland out of a slump in his captaincy debut.
Taumalolo will captain the Cowboys for the first time in Saturday's crucial clash against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium.
The Tongan tearaway will lead the Cowboys out in his 185th NRL game and second appearance since returning from bone bruising in his knee.
After a scintillating start to the season which included multiple 250m-plus performances, Taumalolo sat out North Queensland's Round 4 loss to Cronulla to rest his knee.
While he made a team-high 50 tackles in last week's loss to New Zealand, Taumalolo was limited to an uncharacteristically low 124m with the ball in his return from injury.
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There were moments in the game where Taumalolo passed the ball instead of bulldozing his way over the Warriors and the Cowboys giant admitted he was lacking confidence in his knee.
"Yeah (it's still not right), to an extent, but that's not an excuse," he said.
"When you make yourself available to play you're meant to be out there doing a job to the best of your capability.
"My knee might not be 100 per cent but that's not an excuse for what I tossed up last week. Hopefully this weekend I can make up for it.
"I made the decision to come back. It was a decision I should have thought about a lot more.
"With a short season and how close the competition is, I thought maybe coming back earlier would help the team a lot more.
"It's more of a confidence thing for myself. Injuries are always going to play in your head a little bit.
"I thought I went all right on the weekend and my knee held up all right which should give me some confidence.
"We didn't really play at our best last weekend so hopefully we change that."
While the Cowboys hate to admit it, they statistically struggle to win without Taumalolo and lack spark when he is not at his damaging best.
While the Cowboys are sitting eighth on the ladder, the Tigers game shapes as a crucial match for North Queensland before they embark on a daunting six weeks up against the NRL's top teams.
Taumalolo, 27, has been with the Cowboys since his early teens and will step into the captaincy hot seat for the first time in place of Michael Morgan (shoulder) and Jordan McLean (calf).
"It's a huge honour to represent this club as a captain, it's a pretty proud moment for myself," he said.
"(Coach Paul Green) could have given the captaincy to Moose (Josh McGuire) or Coops (Gavin Cooper). We're not short of leadership at this time and with a young squad we need as much experience as we can get.
"I'll go out there and do my job and help the team as best as I can. Hopefully that inspires and influences other boys to step up too.
"We have to win at whatever cost.
"We really need to get a win this weekend. If we can get a win any way possible, that'll go a long way to us getting back on track."
Originally published as Even the King of Tonga can have a bad day