Cowboys' lock Jason Taumalolo during a training session at Willows Sports Complex. Picture: Cowboys Media
Cowboys' lock Jason Taumalolo during a training session at Willows Sports Complex. Picture: Cowboys Media

Cowboys leader deflects coach pressure to players

THE buck does not stop with Paul Green, it is up to the North Queensland playing group to get the job done.

That is the opinion of Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo, who has put the onus on the team to bounce back ahead of his first game captaining the club.

With Michael Morgan and Jordan McLean sidelined with injuries, the Tongan skipper and victorious Perth Nines leader will have the 'c' next to his name for the first time at NRL level, however he does not expect his game to change.

While he described the chance to lead the team as "a huge honour", Taumalolo said the job easily could have gone to Josh McGuire or Gavin Cooper so it would ultimately be his actions on the field that led and, hopefully, inspired his teammates.

And it is through his performance he hopes the rest of the side can rally around and deflect the external pressure on his coach after disappointing back-to-back losses.

The only way to do that was to "win at all costs".

Cowboys' lock Jason Taumalolo during a training session at Willows Sports Complex. Picture: Cowboys Media
Cowboys' lock Jason Taumalolo during a training session at Willows Sports Complex. Picture: Cowboys Media

"I don't think Greeny is the only one under pressure, I think us players that take the field carry that responsibility just as much as Greeny does," Taumalolo said.

"Everyone can say what they want but at the end of the day we're the ones that put on the jersey, go out there and play the game.

"We're just as much under pressure as Greeny is us players, so for us to change that we have to get out there and get the result we want by winning games.

"The more games we win the less pressure there is on us. Greeny has been here for a while now and he's definitely helped us become as successful as we have been over the past few years.

"We fully back Greeny as a playing group, but in saying that we have to do that on the field too."

Against the New Zealand Warriors, Taumalolo's running metres were well down from his typically lofty standards.

While 124m from 13 carries generally dictates a strong performance, it came from a man whose previous three outings yielded 760m at almost 12m per carry.

Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys is tackled by Lachlan Burr (left) Tohu Harris and Jack Murchie of the Warriors (right) during the Round 5 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the North Queensland Cowboys. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys is tackled by Lachlan Burr (left) Tohu Harris and Jack Murchie of the Warriors (right) during the Round 5 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the North Queensland Cowboys. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

After missing the Cowboys loss to the Cronulla Sharks with a knee complaint, Taumalolo admitted the injury was not completely healed and the shortened season may have impacted his judgment on a return.

However he said that was no excuse - he had declared himself fit and ready and now he needed to lead by example against Wests Tigers on Saturday night.

"To an extent but that's not an excuse. When you make yourself available to play you're meant to be out there doing a job to the best of your capabilities," Taumalolo said.

"My knee might not be 100 per cent but that's not an excuse for what I tossed up last week, so hopefully this week I make up for it.

"Just more of a confidence thing for myself, injuries are always going to play with your head a bit.

"I made the decision to come back, it was a decision that I maybe should have thought about a lot more but it's a short season and given how close the competition is I thought coming back earlier would best suit the team a lot more."



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