Dragons coach Shane Flanagan has reportedly approached Cowboys veteran Jason Taumalolo about a potential switch to the Red V after he was stripped of the club's co-captaincy. Todd Payten announced on Sunday that halfback Chad Townsend and club legend Taumalolo have been replaced as co-captains by the younger Reuben Cotter and Tom Dearden for the upcoming NRL season.
The North Queensland coach admitted the decision shocked Taumalolo but insisted the club needed to look to the future. The Daily Telegraph reports Flanagan subsequently contacted Taumalolo's management where he was reportedly informed that the representative middle was happy at the Cowboys and would not be cutting his $10 million contract short.
The 30-year-old signed a record-breaking 10-year contract in 2017 but has battled with injuries and poor form in recent years. Taumalolo was understood to have been blindsided by Payten's decision to remove him as the club's captain, further fuelling rumours that his relationship with Payten has been sour ever since the pair reportedly had a falling out leading into the 2022 season.
However, Taumalolo reportedly intends to see out his contract in another huge blow for Flanagan who has struggled to bring big-name recruits to the club in the NRL off-season. Flanagan has already missed out on the likes of prop Addin Fonua-Blake, Joseph Manu, Tom Dearden and English playmaker Jack Welsby.
But it hasn't all been bad for Flanagan whose squad has been boosted by the signings of Hame Sele (Rabbitohs), Kyle Flanagan (Bulldogs), Tom Eisenhuth (Storm), Corey Allan (Roosters), Jesse Marschke (Bears NSW Cup) and Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Bulldogs). The new Dragons coach is hoping that the arrival of his son Kyle to play alongside Hunt in the halves will also help bring out the Queensland star's dangerous running game.
It also appears that he has convinced wantaway halfback Ben Hunt to stay. News Corp league reporter Michael Carayannis, claims the Maroons star is "pretty happy" playing under new Dragons coach Shane Flanagan, telling SEN that the veteran playmaker's future is looking increasingly likely to be at the Dragons, with few other clubs able or willing to match the Dragons' $900,000 per-year deal for a player aged 33.
Johnathan Thurston believes Todd Payten has made the necessary calls
Johnathan Thurston believes Payten's ruthlessness in the NRL offseason will help rejuvenate the Cowboys side. North Queensland were predicted by many to challenge for the premiership last season but finished 11th, in what was a dismal year for the club.
Payten reacted to the below-par season and made massive moves in the offseason, bringing in new assistant coaches and assigning two new co-captains, a move Thurston believes was needed. " There's been a lot of change actually, while there's still the same squad, the coaching staff has changed, with James Maloney an assistant there and Justin Morgan so they'll have different styles and structures they'll look to implement into the team," Thurston told Wide World of Sports.
"I think that's what they needed, they needed a freshen-up and will certainly get that with James Maloney there. I went on a tour with Jimmy so I know what he brings, he's a winner, he's a winner wherever he's gone and that's what he'll want to instil into the young people at the Cowboys."
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