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Taumalolo to seek and destroy

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 2:05 PM

Jason Taumalolo is planning to "create havoc" as a ball-runner for the North Queensland Cowboys this season. Copyright: NRL Photos

Cowboys wrecking-ball Jason Taumalolo has some bad news for NRL opposition currently tightening their defences: he plans to run over the top of so many of you that by the end of the 2014 season it will be as synonymous as Thurston's 'show-and-go' or Sonny Bill's offload.

He doesn't have a name for it yet but with a renewed focus under new coach Paul Green, Taumalolo is determined to make every hit-up and tackle count for plenty this season.

Shortly after making his NRL debut in 2010 at 17 years, two months and 21 days, Taumalolo was referred to as the next Sonny Bill Williams. But rather than working on an offload through the line, the 20-year-old is developing a trademark of his own that is a little more direct.

"That's a huge compliment, being compared to one of the game's most elite players," Taumalolo told NRL.com.

"Obviously I want to be playing at the same level as Sonny Bill but I definitely don't want to be the 'next Sonny Bill'. I want to play my own game and hopefully make a trademark as being one of the most destructive players playing in the NRL."

And what will the Taumalolo trademark be?

"Just breaking the line, creating havoc with the ball, leaving defenders behind and burying them six-feet under," he said.

"At times I see player movements [in the defence]. I'll try to run one area and if he comes too hard then I'll try to use more footwork back in but if not then I pretty much just run and whoever is standing in front of me, just try and leave them behind."

Fascinated by how much science goes into such a simple philosophy, NRL.com asked Taumalolo to describe his technique for ensuring that when two big bodies collide, his isn't the one left sprawling towards the turf.

"Touch wood I haven't been sat yet. One day I'll probably look back to this interview... Fingers crossed it doesn't happen anytime soon," said the Tongan international.

"[I aim] straight down their chest, because if you run at their shoulder then that's when it goes wrong. With my size, usually there are always two defenders in front of me so I try to aim for one defender and if I can leave him behind then I'll definitely break the other tackle."

When he was introduced to an already ragged defensive line against the Roosters in their clash in Darwin in 2012, Taumalolo showed the rugby league world the type of promise they are still waiting to see delivered on a regular basis.

A right-foot step, a fend and then carrying defenders on his back resulted in his first try in the 64th minute and then 10 minutes later he burst through the line courtesy of a Thurston short ball and showed an impressive turn of speed before crashing through Anthony Minichiello to score his second.

But for everything he did right, there would be a deficiency in his game that former Cowboys coach Neil Henry thought required more development in Queensland's Intrust Super Cup.

He has played a total of 31 games across the past two seasons and the 2011 NYC Player of the Year is confident that under Green he can become the consistent contributor that the Cowboys need him to be.

"I've looked back last year and been on and off and the year before that and certainly this year one of my main goals is to cement a spot in the 17 and stay there and play consistent football," he said.

"Having 'Greeny' here is a lot different to having Neil Henry here last year. If I did something wrong last year I'd go back [to reserve grade] and learn from that but Paul Green has definitely invested time in me and I think he's really looking forward to me going out on the paddock and hopefully playing my best footy.

"There are a lot of things that have changed since our old coach left. [Green] has definitely come in with his own game plan and how he wants to do things and I've adapted well to that. Defence is a big key to my game and in order for me to play first grade consistently I have to fix that."