Rookie flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow may be a centre option for the Indigenous All Stars after revealing he had been training there as well as fullback under new Cowboys coach Todd Payten.
Tabuai-Fidow, who has Torres Strait Island heritage, is aiming to nail down a regular berth at North Queensland after splitting his 14 NRL appearances last season evenly between fullback and wing and Payten has told him to train at centre during the pre-season.
With Valentine Holmes, Scott Drinkwater and Michael Morgan also able to play fullback, he faces stiff competition for the No.1 jersey but there aren't as many contenders for a centre berth.
"Toddy came up to me and said I would be training as a fullback and centre for this pre-season so I have two positions I will be training hard for to try and get into the team for round one," Tabuai-Fidow said.
"I have more opportunity of being selected if I can play fullback or centre and I don’t mind playing centre as well so it has been pretty good during the pre-season just getting used to that position."
The 19-year-old played mostly at fullback during his junior career but former Cowboys coach Paul Green also played him on the wing because of his blistering speed.
He was selected at centre for the 2019 Australian Schoolboys team, which included promising Sydney Roosters halfback Sam Walker, Canterbury forward Jackson Topine and St George Illawarra backs Mat and Max Feagai.
"The coaching staff are changing the way that we are playing for next season and it has been pretty good so far," Tabuai-Fidow said.
"Todd has spoken to us about playing faster and getting on the front foot.
"It’s the same group of boys but the way we want to play for next season is different to the way we played last season. We have done a couple of sessions the last few weeks just working on being fast and getting over the ad line so that has been pretty good."
It would be a continuation of Tabuai-Fidow’s rapid rise if he was to make his Indigenous All Stars debut in the February 20 clash against the Maori All Stars at QCB Stadium and the teenager said he would be honoured to represent his mother’s side of the family.
He may get the chance to represent his father’s Samoan heritage at next year’s World Cup in England.
"My mum is a Torres Strait Islander and we have a pretty strong connection," he said.
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"The culture up there is pretty strong when it comes to rugby league because everyone up there loves the game and loves playing it as well.
"Dad is Samoan but grew up in New Zealand so I have Samoan blood as well and I would be eligible to play for Samoa."
Tabuai-Fidow was joined at Wednesday’s launch of the 2021 NRL All Stars fixture by Cowboys teammate Reuben Cotter, who also has Torres Strait Islander heritage.
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Cotter played for the Queensland Murri under 16s in 2014 and later represented the Maroons under 16s and under 18s, as well as the 2015 Australian Schoolboys team.
However, back-to-back knee reconstructions while playing for the North Queensland under 20s sidelined him for three seasons before making his NRL debut last year.
The 21-year-old hooker has now made 15 NRL appearances for the Cowboys.
"My grandmother was born up north [Torres Strait Islands] before moving down to Mackay and starting a family," Cotter said.
"I grew up around that culture so it would be exciting if I got the opportunity to play."
With former Dragons captain Dean Young joining the North Queensland coaching staff this off-season, Cotter said he had been getting plenty of advice from him about the dummy-half role.
"He works closely with the hookers so he has definitely got a few tips and ideas when it comes to that," Cotter said. "It’s the same with Georgy [Steve Georgallis] and Toddy as well.
"I think Toddy and the new crew have been pretty good for us. They have got a new approach which I think is what the group needed."
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