The statistics say it all about Taumalolo’s breakout year in the NRL, which began with a key role in the Cowboys’ victory in the Auckland Nines.
After playing 14 NRL matches and starting just two in 2013, he upped his output to 25 matches with 23 starts this year.
The 12 matches for the Mackay Cutters in 2013 turned into no Intrust Super Cup appearances this time around and an end-of-season international debut for New Zealand in the Four Nations.
It might just be a coincidence, but his only two appearances not as a run-on Cowboy in 2014 – away trips to Canberra and Newcastle – ended up in bad losses for North Queensland.
Taumalolo’s average of 142.5 metres per game was the second best for the Cowboys, trailing only co-captain Matt Scott, and was more than 50 metres ahead of what he averaged in 2013.
There was also a significant increase in tackles made – 15.1 to 20.8 – as he showed his worth in both aspects of the game.
Awesome to watch when he’s running the ball, his 77 tackle busts were No.1 for North Queensland.
Of all of his eye-catching performances this year, it was a huge night against eventual premiers South Sydney away from home that was probably the best of all – he scored a solo try and totalled a massive 191 metres.
WHAT’S IN STORE IN 2015:
During the year, coach Paul Green swapped Taumalolo from being a back-rower who played big minutes, often all 80 in a game, to the middle of the park where his minutes were reduced but his impact increased.
Nothing is certain, but the No.13 jersey should be Taumalolo’s for round one if he has a successful pre-season.
There should also be more representative football for the Kiwi on the horizon and the chance to become an even more central figure in the Cowboys’ game plan, especially now that he has 60 games of NRL experience to fall back on.