Back in training after enjoying his post-Rugby League World Cup break, Toyota Cowboys and Kangaroos front-rower James Tamou has spoken about his strong desire to improve his club form in the 2014 NRL season.
Despite being ranked as one of the best props in the game, Tamou thinks he can do much better for North Queensland and has set that as one of his goals for the New Year.
He returned to pre-season training this week, a week earlier than scheduled, and will soon be joined by his three Kangaroos teammates – Matt Scott, Johnathan Thurston and Brent Tate – who will start their conditioning work at the weekend.
That will give new coach Paul Green access to his entire squad of 31 players for the first time since he took over in October.
“I can’t remember too many games where I walked off the field too happy about my performance last year,” Tamou said.
“I definitely need to pick up my performances.
“I have to get out of myself what is expected of me.
“I’ve represented Australia so the players look up to me and expect a bit more and I know last year I’d come off not too happy about myself and my teammates looked at me to see if I was right.”
The 25-year-old carried a neck problem throughout the 2013 season and said he had tried to “change my game a bit” to cover for the injury.
However despite being so critical of his own form, Tamou was the Cowboys’ third highest vote-getter in the Dally M Medal and with 146.2 metres per game, he was No.1 for North Queensland and No.2 among all forwards in the NRL.
The biggest changes were in his number of tackle busts (85 down to 37) and offloads (35 down to 11) as opposition defences keyed in on keeping the big man under control.
He finished the season by playing in all six matches as Australia proved to be unstoppable in the Rugby League World Cup.
“I didn’t want to be sitting on the couch when I know everyone else is training,” the front-rower said of his early return to training.
“The only thing that’s getting to me at the moment is coming back in the heat.
“I’ve been running around a lot but once I get back into shape I’ll be right.”