Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott has benefited from a greater leadership role this season. Credit: Col Whelan Copyright: NRL Photos
It is well documented in sport that when a player takes on an increased leadership responsibility, their personal performance can take a hit as their focus shifts more toward the collective goal.
But if the last two games for Cowboys prop Matt Scott are anything to go by, the opposite is true – just ask fellow front-rower James Tamou.
Backing up a season-best 237-metre effort last week against Brisbane, the Queensland prop again paved the way for his side on Saturday, amassing another 154 metres in a 42-10 demolition of the Sydney Roosters
and cementing a top eight spot for the first time since Round 1.
While results have turned around recently on the field, Tamou says it is more indicative of the changes made off the pitch, chief among them the increased voice of Scott in the locker room.
"The way he leads the team (has changed). Last year he didn't talk as much, King (former coach Neil Henry) did most of the talking. This year Greeny (current coach Paul Green) has sort of let them free range a bit. Sometimes Thumper (Scott) and Johnno will take their own (training) sessions because Greeny, being an ex-player, knows how we think and knows the game so he lets it go in the hands of Johnno and Thumper and I think that's why Matt has come in with more of a role," Tamou said.
Scott gave himself a larger leadership role when he was appointed co-captain along with Thurston in 2011, but it wasn't until this year that he has come out of his shell and made his presence known around the club.
"He's definitely stood up as more of a leader this year, especially with Greeny involved. Greeny has taken them more into account as co-captains, him and Johnno (Thurston), and he's taken more of a role and it shows on the field," Tamou said.
"They have meetings just about daily, the leadership group. It's a good thing because it's very important to know the coaches and the players have that sort of communication so I think what Greeny has brought to this club is very good."
Tamou has himself had to take stock of his clout within the Cowboys group after last year being charged with drink driving, and says New South Wales coach Laurie Daley's statement on potentially snubbing Mitchell Pearce for Game One served as a sobering reminder not to step out of line again.
"I actually had a thought about it this year, if being picked, of just cutting all that (alcohol) out and just concentrating on the game and I'm very happy that Laurie is doing that."
With Tamou now setting focus toward the State of Origin series, the 25-year-old will wait with baited breath before selections on Tuesday, already admitting apprehension as he looks to get one up against his in-form clubmate Scott.
"Very nervous (about Origin). He's playing very, very well at the moment. I will be going into camp and giving as many tips as I can but there's not much to give because his all-round game is just pretty good so I'm am pretty nervous, if being picked in the side, to go against him."