Cowboys shift sheds weight off NRL's Tamou

James Tamou came so close to calling it quits on his rugby league journey after a wooden-spoon season with Wests Tigers he considered what jobs he'd go for after a fruitful career.

Enter his maiden NRL club North Queensland and the 305-game veteran is shaping up for his 15th pre-season back where it all began, this time as a veteran willing to impart experience on their young group.

Tamou entertained offers from the Super League earlier this year and considered a switch to the UK.

But the thought of uprooting his family and potentially moving back after a year squashed that idea.

When his manager called up and said the Cowboys were interested the decision was a fait accompli.

"I said yes straight away," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"Because I knew coming up here I just wanted to enjoy it and not have the weight of the team on your shoulders."

Tamou was one of a number of co-captains at Wests Tigers that slumped to bottom of the ladder with just four wins in 2022, and the pain is still fresh in his mind.

"The way we ended last year was tough, mate. It was tough."

"You have to look in the mirror and go you know, maybe that's it.

"As far as the career playing on, it was a few weeks, even a month I was like: 'Well, I gotta find something else to do, got to get a job."

That job came in the form of a premiership-winning, experienced clubman for the Cowboys' young core who were one game away from the grand final just a few months ago.

Tamou was a shoe-in for selection each week last season but knows the same doesn't apply at his new club.

A motivation that's renewed a fire in his tank.

"I'm in awe with the style of play they played with - they just never gave up," he said.

"I'm not expecting to walk straight into a team at all. You've got genuine superstars - the amount of boys that are in the Kangaroos side and played State of Origin - its crazy.

"I'm going to have to bide my time and make sure I bring my best everyday."