Taumalolo admits he's under-performing
Jason Taumalolo admits he hasn’t been himself in recent weeks and concedes he is yet to recapture the form which propelled the Cowboys to the 2017 grand final.
It coincides with North Queensland's poor start to the season, and the lock is eager to return to the kind of performances he showed in last year's finals.
"I haven't really played at that kind of level lately, but the sooner I find that form the better for myself and the team," Taumalolo said.
Worryingly, perhaps more for other teams than for Taumalolo himself, he doesn't put his poor form down to other teams targeting him, rather as a product of his own efforts.
"Personally I don't reckon the last few weeks I've been myself, that's probably the reason I've been playing the way I've been playing," he said.
"Other teams have been watching film and doing a bit of a job on me but for myself, I think it's just confidence and I think I've been lacking that the last few weeks."
The 2016 Dally M Medal winner also admitted North Queensland's forwards had been lacklustre in the wake of the pre-season hype surrounding a pack that includes Matt Scott and Taumalolo.
"A lot of people have been talking about the slow starts especially from our forward pack. Players like myself and Matt Scott have a lot of expectations on us but we haven't really been playing how we want to be playing how we want to be playing of late," he said.
The man the Cowboys call "Hulk" didn't even use the extra workload from his spectacular World Cup campaign as a reason for his drop in form, despite playing every game for Tonga.
"I can't really use it as an excuse obviously it's just myself and being prepared to play footy every weekend. I'm slowly getting there and with time and a few more games under my belt I'll be better for it."
Last week's game against the Bulldogs may have signalled a turning point for Taumalolo - he made 188 metres, the most in the game by more than 20, and went centimetres from scoring a try that would have put the home side into the contest.
"Last week was a slight step in the right direction so hopefully I can improve on that," he said.