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Why Payten will persist with Taumalolo edge experiment

Todd Payten says the edge experiment with marquee man Jason Taumalolo will continue for the next few weeks despite the Tongan star's impact being severely reduced against the Gold Coast.

Taumalolo struggled to get into the first-half contest from his new left edge role for North Queensland as the Titans enjoyed a near two-to-one possession stake en route to a comfortable 36-14 win on Sunday.

He had registered just four runs in the first 40 minutes before seeing more ball and finishing with 126 running metres, still a marked drop-off for one of the NRL's most prolific big men.

Payten has tinkered with Taumalolo's role and minutes throughout 2021 with mixed results, and said after full-time he would stay on the left edge for some time yet.

"I'm going to see it out the next few weeks," Payten said of Taumalolo's tactical switch.

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"It's a starting point for him. Our [lack of] ball possession limits his impact in the game.

"So [right-edge back-rower] Heilum [Luki] and Jase on an edge in today's game didn't have the impact desired but it's something for us to work on.

"Watching our footy over the past month we've just lacked a little bit of punch on the fringes so Heilum with his athleticism and Jase with his athleticism give our halves a little bit more time and space.

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"That's where we're going with that."

Sunday's loss to the Gold Coast was North Queensland's eighth straight, with last week's defeat to Brisbane already all but putting their faint finals hopes to bed.

Taumalolo's lateral movement in defence was exposed in a first-half try to David Fifita that, prompted doubts from Fox Sports analyst Greg Alexander in commentary, though Payten contended the 28-year-old "defended pretty well" otherwise.

"He looks at sea," Alexander said of Taumalolo.

"He has only started on the edge five times since 2015. That is six years of playing in the middle and only five cracks on the edge.

"They have got to try something because it hasn’t been working.

"But I don’t think the answer is Taumalolo on an edge. He is not going to stay there."

The Cowboys next host Wests Tigers in Townsville on Saturday, a six-day turnaround that puts the availability of Murray Taulagi and Lachlan Burr down to their passing of HIA protocols.

Payten was once again left to lament ill-discipline with and without the ball that made for a mountain of first-half defence against the Titans.

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"There is always some part of our game that is not up to scratch," he said.

"Tonight it was our skill execution and our decisions. Last week it was our energy and effort.

"Different weeks in the past it's been our line speed. We're yet to [play out] a full complete performance for a long time."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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