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Renouf: Cowboys shooting themselves in foot with Taumalolo bench ploy

There’s a problem up at North Queensland and I don’t know what’s more concerning: the attack that failed to score any points or new coach Todd Payten publicly criticising his marquee man in round one.

Now I know they were playing Penrith last week and last year’s minor premiers are again a team to beat this season, but I always look at teams that historically have been able to score tries and they’ve been one of them.

But they couldn’t find the try line so to me that’s a concern.

However, the real dilemma is around Jason Taumalolo being sat out of the game for so long and the coach’s comments afterwards that I thought were pretty ordinary, to be honest.

Maybe there is an injury or an underlying fitness issue we don’t know about which is why Todd is trying to reduce his game time this season, but even as a player if you’re fit enough to play but you’re sitting on the bench watching you just want to be back on there.

The key to defending on the edge

And as a coach you get his arse back on there.

If you’re keeping your best player off and you’re behind on the scoreboard then to me that’s just throwing in the towel and who does that?

Unfortunately it looks like Taumalolo is now going to be sidelined for a month with news coming through on Thursday afternoon that he's broken his hand at training. But when he comes back, the Cowboys should be upping his work rate again.

Round 2 - Norman and Doueihi return, Mansour makes way

Why wouldn’t you want your best player out there on the field as much as possible in every match, trying to win every game?

You just don’t know what could happen in a game. Look at the Broncos, a 16-point lead doesn’t last too long in a game nowadays if a team can get some momentum and build pressure.

A lot of people have spoken about the coach’s response in the media and I thought that it left a bit to be desired.

Saying a player is being lazy or taking a shortcut, there is a time and place for those sorts of comments and I don’t think a round-one media conference is the time to be pulling that trigger and I think he’s jumped the gun.

You could pick apart the whole game to find moments like that, but I’m not sure your marquee player is the one that needs a public spray. He knows when he needs to step up.

Wayne Bennett used to always say the same thing to us as players at the Broncos in the 1990s: "I don’t need to tell you boys, you all know if you messed up."

During our period of success, we always had it in our minds that we lost games. We didn’t get beaten. We beat ourselves.

Payten: I expect us to respond on Saturday

Wayne as a coach was very good at knowing his silence often had more impact than any spray.

We know the Cowboys' previous coach, Paul Green, was very strong behind closed doors with players and that may not have worked towards the end of his time in Townsville, so as a new coach with a young football team you would want to be very careful you don’t lose the playing group by over-reacting too strongly too soon.

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys react to the way Todd spoke after the game.

Payten doubles down on Taumalolo strategy

This Saturday night is a good chance for the Cowboys to bounce back and respond for the coach.

They’re playing the Dragons who are also struggling early on and I’ve actually tipped them for the wooden spoon so I think the Cowboys can get the job done in their first home game.

I’d like to see Valentine Holmes more involved because I think he is wasted on the wing.

Why wouldn’t you want your best player out there trying to win every game?

He needs to have the ball in his hands somewhere. I just don’t think wing is the spot for him.

Nothing against wingers, but he is a better footy player than a winger, if that makes sense. He is more creative and he has shown that.

They’ve got some good attack in their team - when he returns next month, they just have to use Taumalolo as their attacking lynchpin so I would be running him for every minute he can.

What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?

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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.