Tough­est chal­lenge for club, say pair

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

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

Cow­boys full­back Lach­lan Coote.

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