Cowboys search for Hammer time answer

·3-min read

Todd Payten knows he is sitting on one of the NRL's great underused attacking weapons in his North Queensland side in the form of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

The only problem is, there's no obvious way to use him yet.

One of the competition's most electric players, the one-time Queensland State of Origin flyer will come off the bench for the seventh time in 12 games on Sunday against St George Illawarra.

Tabuai-Fidow would be a walk-up start to almost every backline in the competition, with the potential exception of Penrith and Cronulla.

But at the Cowboys, he is consigned to the bench behind a litany of Queensland and international backline stars in Scott Drinkwater, Murray Taulagi, Peta Hiku, Valentine Holmes and Kyle Feldt.

"It's a difficult one. And I know Hammer has struggled with it at times in the past few weeks," Cowboys coach Payten said.

"We need to find a place for Hammer, because of his quality.

"We're trying to get him reps in different positions to make sure he is ready.

"But if I look at that team (there are no openings) ... It's a good headache to have."

Ultimately, Tabuai-Fidow has been the victim of bad luck.

North Queensland's first-choice fullback at the start of the season, he injured his knee in round four and his absence coincided with the Cowboys' rise.

When he returned in round eight Drinkwater was in fine form in the No.1 jersey, while the other representative stars stood in Tabuai-Fidow's way in other backline roles.

As a result, Tabuai-Fidow's five starts in his 11 games since late April have been limited to two at winger and three at centre.

Four of his 11 games have included less than 20 minutes on the field, while he has been unable to bag a try in any game off the bench.

Desperate to get one of his attacking weapons on the park before finals, Payten has now even considered using his 89kg frame off the bench as an attacking middle.

"It has crossed my mind," Payten admitted.

"But I don't know how he would be if I floated the idea with him.

"If we're chasing points in the back-end of the game there has been a discussion about putting him in the middle third.

"Getting him off the back of some of our ruck speed, absolutely.

"But he is an out and out back, (however) it's not the silliest idea."

Realistically, Payten is well aware that the Cairns junior is only one injury away from being a crucial part of the Cowboys' finals run.

"My advice to Hammer himself is make sure he is ready and going after it in different parts of his game at training," Payten said.

"Just like it was for Drinky at the start of the year ... Wherever his opportunity may lie ... Drinky was ready to take it."

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