Cowboys co-captain Jason Taumalolo has no issues with coach Todd Payten’s frank assessment that he needs to lift his game more as an example to the younger players in the squad.
In a pre-game interview with Fox Sports before Saturday’s Cowboys-Dragons match at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, he also said it was up to "other players around me" to rise to the challenge as well.
"It’s fine with me," Taumalolo said of the reduced minutes the new coach wants to give him in a bid to get more on-field impact and preserve his potency for the duration of the season.
"I think it’s good that we see Todd put a lot more accountability on other players around me. So when we go out on the field everyone is accountable.
"So I’m happy with the minutes I’m given and hopefully that does put bit more responsibility on everyone else."
I think it’s good to see him challenge me.Jason Taumalolo
As for Payten’s specific criticism that Taumalolo shouldn’t be "cutting corners" in areas like pressuring oppositions at marker, the 27-year-old Tongan international said he accepted his coach’s viewpoint.
"It’s great to see a coach come out there – I wouldn’t say ‘spray’ like everyone else – but I think it’s good to see him challenge me," he said.
He added that what Payten had said was right and he could "be better in a lot of different areas and I still need to work on that".
Match: Cowboys v Dragons
Round 2 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
“It’s great that Todd is honest and even better that players can be honest with him too."
Taumalolo has been sidelined after breaking his hand at training during the week.
He told Fox Sports he didn’t need surgery but the initial assessment of being out a month remained the same.
Immortal Mal Meninga chimed into the conversation, in his role as a Fox Sports commentator, urging Taumalolo to respond to Payten’s challenge.
"The only way to turn opinion is to go out there and do it from Jason’s point of view," the Kangaroos coach said.
"He needs to show Todd he can play long minutes and at a quality the team deserves. It’s up to Jason Taumalolo to prove everyone wrong, including his coach."