ASI­ATA SILENT BUT DEADLY

Townsville Bulletin - - GO COWBOYS - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH

SOFTLY spo­ken Cowboys lock John Asi­ata has let his play­ing do the talk­ing.

The 22- year- old will come up against his ju­nior club Par­ra­matta tonight off the back of two of the best per­for­mances of his 20- game first grade ca­reer.

Asi­ata ran for 133m from 13 runs against Manly in the Round 19 closer, chip­ping in with 18 tack­les in his 46 min­utes on the field.

It came af­ter step­ping up against the Dragons in Round 17 when the Cowboys were miss­ing four State of Ori­gin stars, when he ran for 116m, made 26 tack­les and a tackle bust while also throw­ing an off­load.

The Cowboys rookie of the year award win­ner has grown in 2015, show­ing he has the run­ning and de­fen­sive game to com­ple­ment his silky pass­ing skills.

“Johnny was very strong ( against Manly) and his at­tack­ing game, he is prob­a­bly one of our bet­ter for­wards and he’s got a re­ally good set of hands on him,” Cowboys as­sis­tant coach Dave Furner said.

“One of the ar­eas Johnny has been fo­cus­ing on is his de­fence and I thought that if you look at that part of his game I thought it was one of his bet­ter de­fen­sive per­for­mances.”

Team­mate Michael Mor­gan said jok­ingly Asi­ata “deep down” wants to be a five- eighth, the po­si­tion where he played his Harold Matthews Cup days for the Eels as a teenager, but was prov­ing a more all- round for­ward tal­ent for the Cowboys.

“He’s go­ing re­ally well and it’s good to see he’s de­vel­oped,” Mor­gan said.

“He came through the un­der- 20s sys­tem with ‘ Gree­nie’ at the Roost­ers and got his chance last year.

“When we need him to go for­ward he can do it and make me­tres for us and when we need to shift the ball then he’s able to do that.

“I think that’s one thing that he’s im­proved on, he knows when to run and when to pass.

“His de­ci­sions have been a lot bet­ter and he’s more con­sis­tent with it.’’

Asi­ata is also a bit of a good- luck charm, with his 20 games of first grade for the Cowboys hav­ing re­sulted in 17 wins.

Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

Cowboys for­ward John Asi­ata is 22.

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