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Taumalolo hoping for big minutes

By Corey Rosser‌‌, New Zealand Correspondent, NRL.com

Jason Taumalolo | Photo: Grant Trouville © NRL Photos
Jason Taumalolo | Photo: Grant Trouville © NRL Photos

After spending 77 minutes on the park in last week's brutal encounter against England, Kiwis powerhouse Jason Taumalolo has declared he is ready to do it all again if required against the Kangaroos.

It was an admirable effort in Huddersfield, considering that in 2016 Taumalolo averaged 52 minutes per match for the Cowboys and that in the previous Test against Australia in Perth he was left on the bench for the first 26 minutes of the second half.

But the joint-winner of this year's Dally M Medal said he was hopeful of spending the majority of the match on the field once again this Saturday night (Sunday morning AEDT) against the Kangaroos.

"Yeah definitely I am up for it, Australia will be a hard test and as long as I am out there on the field working and doing my job then I will be letting 'Kiddy' (coach David Kidwell) know that I want to stay on the field for as long as I can," Taumalolo told NRL.com.

"Before the England game Kiddy spoke about leaving me out there until I was ready to come off, but I felt fresh for that first 40 minutes and eventually came off in the second, but with Tommy (five-eighth Thomas Leuluai) getting knocked out I had to go back on.

"I am grateful for the amount of time I got, but the lungs were definitely burning.

"The body felt the whole 77 minutes, a lot of heavy breathing and just trying to get through a mountain of work and get myself rolling.

"Obviously there will be certain times against a team like Australia where they will need fresh legs so I won't be expecting to play as many as last week.

"I have typically played shorter stints but if I am needed out there longer I can definitely do the job…if I can do it for 70 minutes then I will put my hand up."

Taumalolo finished the 17-16 victory over England with a game-high 271 metres, carrying the ball 24 times in addition to making 28 tackles.

New Zealand teammate Tohu Harris, who played 80 minutes as an edge back-rower against England, said efforts like last weekend's display are why Taumalolo, 23, is regarded by many as the best forward in the world right now.

"I don't know how he does it, especially playing in the middle, but it was a big performance from him and one the team needed," Harris said.

"Performances like that I guess are the reason why he shared the Dally M Medal."

Meanwhile Taumalolo said he was excited to come up against the Kangaroos' forward pack for the second time in a month, believing some of Australia's new faces had added another dimension to their side.

"Their whole forward pack is world class with guys like Matt Scott leading the way, big Shannon Boyd and even Jake Trbojevic who debuted last week, and it's great to see some new faces emerge in that Australian side," Taumalolo said.

First published on NRL.com.