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Renouf: Cowboys' rebuild will be slow unless they get two big guns firing

There are some things to like about the rebuilding Cowboys but I have to question some of their decisions and unfortunately I think they could be at least another year away from pushing for a top-eight finish.

The Cowboys had a good run earlier in the year and were in the top eight for a period of time but have fallen away quite a lot since then and they're clearly not where they would have expected to be at this point after 10 straight losses.

Todd Payten would have expected to have done better with the roster he had, especially when you go back to what he was able to do with the Warriors in the second half of last year.

First you have to realise how big of a gap they had to fill both in terms of playing ability and leadership since the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Gavin Cooper retired.

Add in the unexpected loss of Michael Morgan, who was meant to be one of their leaders this year, and it is really hard to recover from that.

They've had to bring some young players through and a lot of them are still finding their feet but they do have a few good prospects.

One of those is Tom Dearden, who's had a tough time of it this year but in my view is going to turn out to be a very good playmaker.

Chad Townsend comes in next year to help guide him around which could mean Scott Drinkwater becomes the new specialist No.14.

He could be a huge threat off the bench with his versatility and running game in what is becoming something of a specialist position in the modern game.

Valentine Holmes switches to centre this week - I like the look of this move.

He's struggled to find his feet in Townsville since returning to the game but I think the centres will suit him.

It means Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow can get a good run at fullback which will be great for him too. The more ball you can get the Hammer, the better - I think it will be a good transition.

I've looked at the way Val has played over the years and he'd make a good centre, providing his motivation is there to make a success of the move.

It's been a funny one though with Taumalolo this year and I wonder if that could have been handled better.

Payten was quite critical of him in some public comments he made at the start of the year which I'm not sure if that's the best way to manage a player of Jason's status.

Todd did a great job with the Warriors last year and the only reason why I'd question him was just a couple of his post-game interviews and talks to the team earlier in the year really bamboozled me.

From a new coach coming in, that can be offputting for players.

There was the decision to reduce Taumalolo's minutes, then more recently he got moved out to an edge right before he got injured and now he's come back he's starting in the front row.

I'm just not sure what the plan is or how these decisions are being made.

Was this all Todd's idea or has some of it come from Jason? Does he get on with the coach? These little injuries he's had with his hands haven't helped him get any continuity as well.

Maybe all the players are still adjusting to the new coaching style and that's what you come back to, these days players have a say in all that and where they play.

You're not sure if it's come from the coach or a senior player putting his hand up to do that.

I'd personally leave Jason at lock but what's most important is that Taumalolo, Holmes, they're leaders at the club and they need them both on the field, playing at their best.

The off-season will be very important for the club and they really have to have those things sorted before they get out there for their first game next year.

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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.

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