Toughest challenge for club, say pair
COWBOYS stars Jason Taumalolo and Lachlan Coote rate the injury- plagued Cowboys’ premiership quest this year as the toughest challenge they’ve faced at the club.
Many experts had already written off the Cowboys after co- captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston were ruled out for the year.
The task has become tougher with fellow experienced campaigners Gavin Cooper ( calf) and Antonio Winterstein ( hamstring) both expected to miss at least a fortnight after limping off early in last week’s loss to Melbourne.
Currently in sixth, the Cowboys could drop to as low as eighth should they succumb to Penrith in Sydney tomorrow night.
Asked if the situation was the biggest test he’s faced since he arrived in Townsville from the Panthers, Coote said: “I think so.
“Losing another captain now with Coops, he brings a lot of talk to the team and his extra efforts in defence.
“We’re going to lose a lot there with him being out, the boys have to step up.
“It’s a big game for them ( Penrith) and a massive game for us with all the injuries we’re going through, and wanting to finish in the top four.”
Reigning Dally M medallist Taumalolo said they are motivated by being dismissed as premiership contenders and is steadfast in his belief they can still lift the trophy.
“Any team that loses players like JT or Matt Scott, it’s definitely an uphill battle, but I definitely believe we've still got the playing squad to win the competition,” Taumalolo said.
“Time to improve is running out. It’s pretty much right now for us.
“The boys use that ( being written off) as a bit of motivation. Greeny ( coach Paul Green) brings that up every now and then that no one’s giving us a chance, but as long as the boys believe in themself and each other, none of that matters. I believe the boys can do it, and I think it’s time for us to show that.”
After four straight wins the Cowboys have dropped consecutive matches against top two sides Melbourne and the Roosters.
Eighth- placed Penrith will leapfrog them if they are victorious tomorrow and Taumalolo said they realise how crucial the next month is. However, he insisted he was not feeling any added pressure to step up as the Cowboys battle injury dramas, in particular their middle forwards.
“I think my role never changes in the team,” he said.
“There’s enough leadership in the team with Morgo ( interim captain Michael Morgan) who’s been playing really well without JT, and Boltsy ( Scott Bolton) too in the middle.
“There’s plenty of experience around the park but I think it’s all about the boys connecting with each other.” finals time