Taumalolo eyes starting spot
Cowboys coach Paul Green has challenged powerhouse youngster Jason Taumalolo to find the consistency to be a regular member of the starting side after the 20-year-old starred in North Queensland's opening trial win over the Broncos.
Taumalolo's charges on the left regularly proved too much to handle for the Brisbane defence as the Cowboys turned a 14-4 half-time advantage into a convincing 32-8 victory with Tariq Sims also delivering an outstanding display on the right-hand side.
Since making his NRL debut as a 17-year-old back in 2010, Taumalolo has only twice figured in the Cowboys' run-on side in 35 top-grade appearances but Green certainly wants to see him involved from the opening whistle in 2014.
"The thing for Jase is that he just needs to learn to be consistent," Green said following his side's win at Redcliffe. "You forget that he's only 20 years old. This is his first year out of under-20s if you compare him to everyone else and I think everyone takes that for granted a little bit and expects a lot more from him.
"We all know how good he can be but he just needs to learn to be consistent and that comes with experience. It's something that he's aware of and he's working hard at it which is the important thing.
"He's certainly working hard and that's what we've asked him to do. His effort-on-effort stuff needed to get better and he's aware of it and he's working hard in that area. We'll see what happens in the trials but I'd love to see him starting that's for sure."
Taumalolo's first major involvement came in the 10th minute when he was on the end of some quick hands by the Cowboys and stormed down deep into Broncos territory and left Brisbane fullback Jordan Kahu lying dazed on the ground after crashing into him.
Five minutes later he spilt the ball while trying to barge over from close range and then in the 18th minute scored his side's opening try after some nice work inside by Anthony Mitchell and Robert Lui created a gap for him to burst through close to the line.
Two of the Cowboys' second-half tries came on the tackle directly after a Taumalolo charge as he asserted himself at every opportunity.
On a night of positives for Green the strong performances from his two hookers, Anthony Mitchell and Cameron King, gave him further food for thought as to how his No.9 rotation will look for Round 1.
Ray Thompson remains favourite to be the starting hooker for the clash with the Raiders on March 8 but Mitchell and King both impressed on the back of a strong forward display.
"That's probably the one position in our team with the most competition," said Green. "So it's pleasing for me and I think also credit has got to go to the big guys too. They did a great job which gave those hookers an opportunity."
Star five-eighth Johnathan Thurston won't be seen until the club's final trial against the Titans in Toowoomba on February 22 after Green revealed that he will not be selected for the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines next weekend.