Taumalolo to reach new heights
Cowboys' tearaway Jason Taumalolo has revealed he has another gear to hit after a process of building confidence in the right knee that kept him out for four weeks earlier in the season.
The 22-year-old wasted no time in his Round 11 return as he burst back into fans' consciousnesses with a domineering 196 metre performance to help out the Ben Hannant-Sam Hoare front row on their way to the 8-0 win over Wests Tigers.
Taumalolo has averaged 178 metres and 20 tackles per game since returning and says complete confidence in the knee has taken time but is improving week by week.
But the numbers being produced are not enough according to the man himself, who admits to having been restricted during games by precautionary strapping around the knee.
The light-footed Taumalolo has some of the quickest feet in the NRL's forward stocks despite the strapping and has either reached the '200' mark or gone within just metres of it three times since returning from injury.
"It's been all right, I wouldn't say it's the best it's been," he said of his current form.
"Coming back from injury early, my knee is a bit weary still, but after the break I feel a lot better and I will try not to strap my knee.
"At times in the game I feel like [the strapping] is stopping me and it restricts me to what I normally do. Hopefully with this [Manly] game there will be a bit more range [of movement] and slowly move towards doing stuff that I want to do during the game."
Beyond his own form, Taumalolo says his side will need to pay particular attention to a quick start out of the blocks after such a long break.
After prop Matt Scott scored next to the sticks in the third minute last time the two met, the Cowboys switched off for the better part of an hour until Gavin Cooper scored with just seconds remaining in the 18-14 win.
"Some boys come out of the break in holiday mode but I think everyone's just happy to see each other again to be honest. They're probably getting sick of whoever they're hanging out with. It's good to see everyone back and it's good to see the Origin boys back too, it's quite refreshing," he said.
"But we've got to blow out the cobwebs before we start playing on Monday. I'm sure the HPU [High Performance Unit] team will be up our alley this week at training.
"We're a bit wary after our last game. They'll be looking to get one back and especially at their home ground.
"We didn't start as good as last game so we'll be looking to come out firing first and hold the intensity for the whole 80 minutes instead of playing that 40 minute game and then having a 20 minute lapse where we just turn off."