How Cowboys' youth revamped Taumalolo

·2-min read

He might not be shredding the stat sheet this season but Jason Taumalolo says he's thoroughly enjoyed his new role with North Queensland as they enter a first home preliminary final on Friday.

The last time Taumalolo and the Cowboys made the finals in 2017 he bore the weight of the club to lead the NRL with 5000 run metres in the calendar year - the most ever by a forward - and averaged 205 run metres per game.

Five years on with a young core around him and the implementation of the six-again rule, his workload has shifted to a targeted output as coach Todd Payten maximises impact.

He's averaged 55 minutes per game in 2022 leading to 156 metres per game - third in the competition for post-contact metres and third amongst forwards in total run metres.

Spearheading the Cowboys alongside co-captain Chad Townsend, Taumalolo's impact-focused role has provided the platform for his young teammates to develop.

He says that's been one of the highlights of the season.

"To be in the front seat for it has been great," Taumalolo told AAP.

"I'm just grateful and happy to be a part of it.

"A lot of guys are having big seasons and to watch them grow as players over the last 18 months has been one of the reasons why we get to play in another grand final qualifier."

"When you've got a lot of kids coming through that are making a name for themselves and playing great football, that makes my job a lot easier.

"I can pick and choose my moments where I do get to flick the switch."

Friday's preliminary-final blockbuster sold out in a matter of minutes with some hotels advertising rooms thousands of dollars above average price.

Fans from as far west as Mount Isa and high as Cape York will descend on the city in droves to witness the club's first home final game in six years.

Taumalolo said his side know too well how much a home crowd advantage can have.

"It plays a huge part. Cronulla didn't really get the result they wanted in week one but you could see the crowd and the influence they had on the game and the energy they were giving," he said.

"To get a grand final qualifer here at home, that's a huge advantage.

"It'll be one of the best atmosphere's these guys will be a part of their entire career."