In an ominous warning to the Roosters ahead of this Sunday's clash on the Central Coast, Jason Taumalolo says he is feeling refreshed and revitalised after a five-day break courtesy of a bye.
When you consider the 26-year-old powerhouse averaged 255 metres per game in his last three matches before the round 16 bye, it's a scary prospect for anyone trying to slow him down in the remaining nine games of 2019.
"I was pretty desperate for a break to be honest," Taumalolo said on Thursday.
"Not everyone played the representative round so a few of the boys got a rest then but for those of us who played that weekend it was great to get a week off.
“It’s been a good five days off. I enjoyed myself a bit too much, but that’s part of refreshing myself mentally and physically."
The break also gave Taumalolo time to reflect on what went wrong in the tight losses to Manly, Wests Tigers and the Dragons in recent weeks which put a significant dent in the Cowboys' finals hopes.
Roosters v Cowboys - Round 17
“We just have to be better all over the field [against the Roosters]. We can't let them get a good start like we have been letting a few teams in the last few games," Taumalolo said.
“We haven’t helped ourselves letting in a couple of easy tries at the start of the game and letting the scoreboard change the way we play.
“If we want to be in the game for the whole 80 on Sunday we can't be leaking those soft tries and early points.”
The loss of Michael Morgan to concussion will force a reshuffle in a match the Cowboys would dearly love to win for Gavin Cooper in his 300th NRL game.
The versatile John Asiata looks set to slot in at five-eighth and the dummy half role could be shared between Josh McGuire and youngster Reuben Cotter, who has been named on the extended bench with Kurt Baptiste out injured.
Cotter debuted in round 13 against Manly and has been working hard to ensure he's ready to go if called on by coach Paul Green.
“That's what I've been working towards all year and now it's good to hopefully string a few more games together," Cotter said.
“It’s always unfortunate when someone gets injured but that’s footy and Kurt is well equipped to handle that sort of stuff. Our coaching staff work pretty hard with our rehab squad, so I'm sure he’ll be back before he knows it."
Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons
Cotter, 20, has been leaning on experienced No.9 Jake Granville for advice and says he has learnt plenty from the 126-game rake.
“Jake's always teaching me new things and I'm always watching him throughout training to try and better my game," Cotter said.
"He’s very quick in and around the ruck so that's something I try and take into my game.”
Asiata, meanwhile, is fresh and full of confidence after some time off and believes the Cowboys are still in the hunt for September.
“I think as a group we still believe we can do it," Asiata said.
“People can write us off [this weekend] but we just want to turn up and play for each other and put our best foot forward. I truly believe that as a squad we'll find ourselves and we'll finish this year off really strong.
“And to have a milestone like Coops' 300th just gives us that extra motivation to be able to do our job to the best of our ability.
"We don't have to go out there and do anything special. It's just about doing our job to the best that we can and we know that Coops will turn up on the weekend and do his."