Hulking Jason Taumalolo could be set for a move to lock after a barnstorming performance in North Queensland’s 28-8 NRL win over Gold Coast.
Jason Taumalolo’s NRL future at North Queensland could be as a lock.
After being pushed into the middle of the park in the Cowboys’ 28-8 win over Gold Coast on Saturday night, he showed he could have a long-term future in the No.13 jersey.
Taumalolo’s first-grade career has predominantly been as a brutal edge runner.
But with Gavin Cooper a surprise inclusion after 11 weeks out with a dislocated hip, coach Paul Green pushed Taumalolo into the middle to allow Cooper to play on his preferred left side.
And he excelled, surging upfield for 152 metres, often dragging three or four defenders with him as his legs kept pumping.
While much has been made of North Queensland’s shuffling in the halves and hooker positions this season, no Cowboy has been able to nail down the lock role with Glenn Hall, Tariq Sims, Scott Bolton and Joel Riethmuller all being tried.
After Saturday’s display, Taumalolo could be Green’s man.
The media were asked “not to pump Jason up” by Cowboys management, and the 21-year-old was predictably humble about his performance.
“I think he (coach Green) was just short of a lock,” he said.
“Greeny thought I would suit that position … I just went in there and did my job.
“From my point of view, it was probably not the best option. I was blowing after a few runs there.
“But after a little while, second wind kicked in and I needed to do my job.
“It was one of my better games so far.”
With James Tamou (neck) to return when the Cowboys host the Wests Tigers next weekend and Matt Scott and Cooper dominating in their first games back from injury, hard decisions will need to be made.
But after his performance against the Titans, Taumalolo appears set to be part of a formidable back-row with Cooper and Tariq Sims on the edges.
“I’m not sure at this stage,” Green said of his selection dilemma.
“I’ll have a good look at the game and then just get the balance right with the team.
“(Taumalolo) was a real handful through the middle when we moved him in there.”
Cooper started off the bench in his first game back, but his combination with Test and Maroons playmaker Johnathan Thurston is almost certain to land him his favoured left-edge position against the Tigers.
“They’ve played a lot of footy together down that edge. It’s certainly something I’ll need to consider when I pick the team moving forward,” Green said.