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Reuben Cotter and Murray Taulagi are part of a four-man contingent of North Queensland Cowboys in this year's Maroons squad, with both keen to build on their debut appearances from last year. 

The pair experienced contrasting results last year, but injury (Cotter) and illness (Taulagi) restricted them to only one match in Queensland's successful campaign.

Cotter had a debut to remember in Game One, making a remarkable 51 tackles in an 80-minute performance that was lauded by commentators and past players alike, with Maroons workhorse Dallas Johnson lauding his efforts in the middle.

“It's pretty special to be back,” Cotter, who missed the following two matches with a hamstring tear, said.

“Last year I only got to do it once and it was a dream come true, so it's good to be back here with the boys and it's a good group of lads.”

For Cotter, his mentality going into his second Origin campaign was to “keep things simple” but he was looking to prepare in a similar fashion to his debut match which saw him play 80 minutes at lock.

“I won't really prepare any differently," Cotter told on day one of camp.

"I just like to keep things simple and I'll keep it the same as I as I did last year and just do what works for me.

"I'll keep a narrow focus and tick each session off this week and just enjoy my time in camp and have fun. 

“(When it come to Origin) you don't really have to do anything differently, you just have to do things a little bit better.

Murray Taulagi at Maroons training.
Murray Taulagi at Maroons training. ©Scott Davis / NRL Images

“I'll keep it pretty simple (for the game), running harder and being aggressive and more physical. Pretty simple.”

Taulagi, who joins Cotter, Val Holmes and Tom Dearden as the Cowboys in the squad, said he was grateful to be back after a COVID-19 diagnosis saw him sidelined after his Game Two debut last year.

“I am very privileged to get the opportunity to come to camp and very honoured to be able to pull the Maroons jersey on again,” Taulagi said. 

“My debut game wasn’t the result we wanted and I had all the emotions in that game and it was pretty unfortunate not to play a Game Three.

“I'm very lucky now that Billy selected me and I'm not going to take this for granted and I'm going to try and put my best foot forward for him and repay him for selecting me.”

With the Cowboys experiencing fluctuating form so far this season, both players were thankful to know they had performed well enough to earn the opportunity to return and knew they had a job to do.

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While Cotter was focused on keeping things simple, Taulagi also knew what his role would be for the team on game day, with coach Billy Slater outlining his plans for him when he gave him the call to tell him he had been selected.

“He (Slater) just let me know that I was going to be playing and selected and just told me to bring those hard yardage carries; most of the game is based on yardage carries, so he said pretty much get ready for that,” Taulagi said.

“I’m not making tackles, so I have got to do something else.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland 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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