Stopping Taumalolo only the start: Hunt
He has been named by his peers as the premier player of 2016 and stopping Jason Taumalolo is the first step in beating the Cowboys on Friday night according to Brisbane Broncos half Ben Hunt.
Beginning with last year's qualifying final at Suncorp Stadium, the past four meetings between these two clubs have been epic encounters and Friday night's first semi-final promises to be no different with both teams putting their seasons on the line.
In the past three meetings – all decided by a field goal – Taumalolo has run for a combined 566 metres, 103 more metres than the next best from either team and at an average of 189 metres per game.
Spurred on by a sub-standard performance in the wake of last week's egg-throwing incident, Taumalolo has promised a display more in keeping with his season to date which spells trouble for Hunt and his Broncos.
"Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote are all class players, up there with the best in rugby league, but I think the big key to beating the Cowboys is nullifying their forward pack – they're so big and mobile," Hunt writes in the Finals Week 2 issue of Big League this week.
"When they get rolling it makes things a lot easier for their great outside backs and halves.
"That all starts with shutting down Jason Taumalolo. He's one of the toughest players to tackle in the NRL and he's got so many weapons in his game.
"He's big enough that he can run straight over the top of you, but he's also got footwork, so when you think he's coming straight at you he can step and go around. We're going to have to get a lot of numbers in the tackle and really work him over."
Despite the recent history between the two sides Hunt believes the Broncos will go into the game still unsure of exactly what to expect but with a game-plan that mirrors the one Melbourne employed in last week's qualifying final win over North Queensland.
"I watched their game against Melbourne closely. Melbourne completed well and played a real grinding game," Hunt says.
"They didn't try and do anything fancy, they just got the job done and that's something we've got to do as well. We'll have to play a simple, hard, high-completion game of football if we want to win on Friday.
"Every time we play the Cowboys the build-up is huge, but for a finals game it multiplies.
"They're a great side, but even though we've played them so many times in the past two years, you can't really get to know them inside-out because they have so much talent and they do everything so well.
"You think you know what they're doing, but because of the talent they've got they'll change it up and hurt you somewhere else.
"We have to prepare the best we can for everything they're going to throw at us."
The Finals Week 2 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents, supermarkets and at the ground. Digital version also available through www.zinio.com, Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.