ROOST­ERS STILL ABLE TO CROW Tau­malolo tips Chooks will lift mi­nus lead­ers

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH jonathon. tuxworth@ news. com. au

COW­BOYS star Ja­son Tau­malolo has tipped the Roost­ers will take a leaf out of North Queens­land’s book and lift with­out their co- cap­tains in to­mor­row night’s block­buster NRL clash in Syd­ney.

North Queens­land have proved crit­ics wrong by be­ing out­side the top four only on per­cent­ages in the dev­as­tat­ing ab­sence of the club’s lead­ers Johnathan Thurston ( shoul­der) and Matt Scott ( knee) for the rest of the sea­son.

Roost­ers skip­pers Boyd Cord­ner and Jake Friend will both miss the Al­lianz Sta­dium showdown with the Cow­boys, but will re­turn be­fore the finals kick off in Septem­ber.

Cow­boys lock Tau­malolo does not be­lieve the Roost­ers are sus­cep­ti­ble with­out ar­guably the best back- rower in the game and their crafty rake as North Queens­land start a tough road to­ward a po­ten­tial top- four berth.

The Cow­boys have ral­lied with­out Thurston and Scott by win­ning their past four games, but none have been against top- eight op­po­si­tion.

They play three teams inside the top four over the next month, which is set to of­fer a better in­di­ca­tion of their pre­mier­ship cre­den­tials. “I wouldn’t say vul­ner­a­ble is a word ( to de­scribe the Roost­ers), if any­thing they’ll come to­gether more as a group,” Tau­malolo said.

“They’ve still got great for­wards and two great halves in ( Mitchell) Pearce and ( Luke) Keary. They’re still dan­ger­ous, re­gard­less of who is out of their team.”

Tau­malolo says the Cow­boys are em­brac­ing their bru­tal schedule as they chase a top- four berth, which looked un­likely when Thurston was told he re­quired surgery af­ter in­jur­ing his shoul­der in Ori­gin II. “I think it is needed,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously finals are around the corner and you want to play teams who are go­ing to be there, to see who you are as a team.

“The next few weeks we’ll do that and play a few teams in front of us on the lad­der.

“There’s a lot on the line in a few big games.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate we lost Johnno and Matt Scott for the re­main­der of the sea­son but ev­ery­one’s stepped up in their role and no one’s do­ing any­thing out of the or­di­nary to come up with the big plays and win us games. I don’t think much will change.”

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

JA­SON TAU­MALOLO SE­RI­OUS TEST: Ja­son Tau­malolo is wary of the Roost­ers lift­ing with­out their co- cap­tains, as his Cow­boys side has done.

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