Cowboys enforcer Jason Taumalolo wants to increase his explosiveness in 2021 as North Queensland's new co-captain leads the club into a promising new era under rookie coach Todd Payten.
Taumalolo has already scaled rugby league’s greatest heights with a premiership and Dally M Medal but leadership is one area he believes he has room to grow as he joins Michael Morgan as a permanent leader of the team.
Payten clearly wants to extract every ounce of value from his marquee man, planning to reduce his game time in a quality-over-quantity philosophy whilst also pushing the 27-year-old out of his shy comfort zone into a position of authority within the team.
While barking orders and voicing opinions doesn’t come naturally to Taumalolo, he knows offering more of himself will not only positively impact his teammates but bring out the best in his own game too.
“I think that’s probably one of my downfalls over the last few years is not voicing my opinions every now and then,” Taumalolo said.
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“That is something I’ve been working on this preseason but we’ve got a lot of great leaders here too and that makes my job a bit easier.
“There is a lot more pressure this year with the C next to my name but I’m going to relish that added responsibility.
“I wouldn’t say I was aspiring to be captain but I guess having a bit more accountability and responsibility as an experienced player here I kind of knew it would happen.”
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Taumalolo said Payten’s plan to reduce his game time would not only help his own game, but elevate the responsibility on young players coming through like Frank Molo.
“It doesn’t bother me, but I can go harder for shorter minutes and I’m happy with that,” he said.
“A bit more explosiveness rather than drag it out and save myself.”
Cowboys players got their first taste of the club’s new high-performance centre on Wednesday and, with the full relocation of their training equipment due to be completed by the end of the month, Taumalolo is looking forward to a new period for the club with world-class facilities.
“We have a new facility, new stadium and new coach but at the end of the day it’s what we do on the field that counts,” he said.
“Every club has had a good preseason, everyone trains well but it’s what we do when we put on that jersey. Round one can’t come quick enough for us.”
Cowboys forward Jordan McLean meanwhile said he was confident of being fit to play next week’s trial against Brisbane at Redcliffe despite still managing hamstring tightness.
McLean has had ongoing problems with his hamstring but feels the club medical staff has managed his workload well during a preseason where the coach has put a focus on training at a higher intensity than game day.
“I’ve obviously got an issue with my hamstring so the performance staff are doing a great job managing it at the moment,” McLean said.
“I think I will still play the trial, every session is different and it just depends how I pull up each day.
“At the moment we’re training quick and fast … but I just need to make sure I’m not putting myself at risk.
“The games we’re playing at training are well above the NRL speed of the game so hopefully when we start playing games and come back to the speed of that game it works well for us.”