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Payten's call for up-tempo style music to Robson's ears

Cowboys hooker Reece Robson hopes a fresh focus on speeding up play can help him build on a promising first year with the club. 

Cowboys players have made no secret Payten has built an emphasis around playing more up-tempo in 2021 after the club slumped to 14th on the Telstra Premiership ladder last year.

Once regarded one of the best forward packs in the competition, the Cowboys have slumped to rank 11th in recent years for metres gained on average alone, while their reliance on international star Jason Taumalolo hasn't gone unnoticed.

With former Dragons interim coach Dean Young also on board with a focus on improving the defence, Robson is hoping the fresh structures can pay dividends with the ball in hand.

"With a new coaching staff everything has been a little bit different, it's been good, a lot of competing this pre-season and all the boys are buying into that," Robson said.

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"We didn't start [pre-season] as early as we normally would with COVID-19, so [we] hit the ground running to be in the best condition we can be to start the season."

A rare shining light during the side's dismal 2020 campaign, Robson forced his way into the Cowboys starting line-up before he was restricted to 14 appearances by a hamstring injury.

He is again competing with veteran Jake Granville and Reuben Cotter for the No.9 jersey.

"They're both great hookers and have got their own special individual talents," Robson said.

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"We all work together in parts of our games we lack and areas of strength. With the new coach, it adds a bit of pressure but it's been good so far.

"[Todd's] put the onus on everyone in the team but the hookers have got a vital part. They're the first people to put their hands on the ball and can get the set rolling.

"I like when there's a bit of speed there. It does add to that flat and fast style. 

"I've been enjoying the style we've been training with and the team will benefit from it."