This is the sixth article in a series naming each club’s best team of loyal stalwarts. Not necessarily just those one-club players but those who turned out for the club over a long period and helped build its success and culture.
North Queensland will persist with Jason Taumalolo as an edge second-rower with Todd Payten adamant he shouldn’t be judged on Sunday’s loss to Gold Coast.
The Cowboys’ lack of good ball limited any chance Taumalolo had to make an impact playing as a second-rower, starting there for the first time since 2014.
Taumalolo ran the ball just four times in the first half for only 14 metres, unable to give North Queensland any momentum on the left edge.
The Cowboys superstar finished the night with 106 metres from his 14 runs, even with the Cowboys still struggling for field position for most of the second half.
Defensively he was caught out in the lead up to just one try, with Payten happy with his work even accounting for the four missed tackles.
Regardless the coach said he would stick with the plan of playing the wrecking ball and Heilum Luki on the edges, confident it would benefit his struggling halves.
“I’m going to see out the next few weeks,” Payten said.
“Watching our footy over the past month we just lack punch on the fringes.
“Heilum with his athleticism and Jase with his athleticism give our halves a little more time and space.
“(The Gold Coast game) is a starting point for him. Possession limits his impact on the game.
“Heilum and Jase on an edge in today’s game didn’t have the impact we would desire. But it’s something for us to build upon.”
No decision though can now save the Cowboys’ season.
They sat seventh in mid-May and looked like potential finalists, but have since given up eight straight losses.
Halfback Tom Dearden is yet to taste victory since arriving at the club from Brisbane, while they have completed poorly and missed the most tackles in the NRL.
“Consistency in our game (is an issue),” Payten said.
“There is always some part of our game not up to scratch. Tonight it was our skill execution and our decisions.
“Last week it was our energy and effort. Different weeks in the past it has been our line speed.”
In other concerns for North Queensland, both Murray Taulagi and Lachlan Burr are highly doubtful to face the Wests Tigers next week after suffering concussions.