ALL RD 23 TEAMS IN A SPECIAL THURSDAY FOOTY FORMGUIDE
JASON Taumalolo is under pressure to rediscover his metre-eating mojo after coach Paul Green declared the Cowboys’ charge to the NRL grand final will begin against Souths tonight.
Cronulla last week provided a template on how to muzzle Taumalolo. The 110kg forward was restricted to a season-low 70m in the 30-18 loss to the Sharks.
It was the third worst output of his 78-game NRL career, well shy of the 244m he registered in his most brutal display of the season against the Storm in Round 4.
After the Sharks handed the Cowboys a premiership wake-up call, Green challenged Taumalolo to step up in Townsville tonight against a Souths pack led by the Burgess brothers.
“Jason he is developing nicely, but there is more in him and we need to see it,” Green said.
“Jason can play a lot better than he did (against the Sharks).
“They probably did their homework on him. We need him and the rest of the guys to be at or near their best with the finals not too far away.
“The Rabbitohs are coming off a loss (against Manly) and they would be disappointed, so we need to have more intensity in how we play and start getting ready for the bigger games.’’
Only a week ago, Broncos great Darren Lockyer nominated Taumalolo as the backrow factor that could help break the Cowboys’ 20-year premiership drought.
Cronulla’s defence stopped Taumalolo getting out of first gear at Remondis Stadium. He made only seven runs in 49 minutes, and his 70m tally was only marginally better than his careerlow as a starter of 69m.
Taumalolo has averaged 150m a game this season, but he will be a prime target in the run to the finals.
Cowboys and Queensland five-eighth Michael Morgan urged his teammates to help take the heat off Taumalolo.
“The Cronulla game was one of those nights where there were too many people off their games and that doesn’t help someone like Jason,” Morgan said. “The more we can be switched on as a team, the more it will help our bigger forwards.’’
The Cowboys are equal first with Brisbane but Green said his side must ramp up their title ambitions.
“Our culture is good, but we need to play better,” he said. “We’re getting closer to the finals and we have to ramp up our preparations.
“It’s very hard in this comp for any team to stay up too long, but now I want to start seeing some consistency.’’