Taumalolo's Cowboys return put on ice for another week

·2-min read
Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS

North Queensland's wretched Sydney stay has taken another hit with Jason Taumalolo ruled out of the clash with Parramatta.

Taumalolo had hoped to return from knee surgery for the Cowboys against the Eels at CommBank Stadium on Friday night, but club officials have now opted to push that return back.

Taumalolo's return would have been a massive boost for the club after last Saturday's 66-18 drubbing from Wests Tigers, but the Cowboys now expect him to return against Melbourne on June 4.

"He hasn't come up right to play this week," Cowboys coach Todd Payten said.

"He is a definite for next week, assuming things don't go catastrophically wrong in the next eight days."

Taumalolo's absence comes with the Cowboys also without Reuben Cotter from their pack through Queensland State of Origin selection.

Centre Valentine Holmes, winger Murray Taulagi and five-eighth Tom Dearden will also be missing against an Eels side minus Junior Paulo due to Origin.

Payten insists debutant centre Zac Laybutt and winger Robert Derby will be up to the task, with the coach particularly backing the powerful carries of the latter.

The Cowboys coach took players back to the scene of their capitulation for Thursday's captain's run, finalising their game preparation at Leichhardt Oval.

That was more for logistical reasons than tactical ones after spending the week in Sydney, but Payten does want it to evoke a response from his team.

"I hope the players felt like I did walking back in the place," he said.

"There is nowhere to hide in rugby league. Between social media, media coverage and even just looking in the mirror.

"Everyone is really disappointed. At different stages in the game it felt like quicksand. The harder we tried, the harder it got.

"It has been a tough couple of days early on. We have moved past it as a team now."