Win or lose in the middle
By Dylan Morris, North Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
The Canberra Raiders and North Queensland Toyota Cowboys will field four key forwards each on Saturday night, and their combined weight will fall just over 900kg. Jason Taumalolo, Coen Hess, John Asiata and Scott Bolton for the Cowboys come in at 443kg, but will have their hands full against the Raiders. Junior Paulo, Shannon Boyd, Josh Papalii and Dave Taylor have an extra 30kg on their opponents, coming in at 473kg.
The two monster forward packs, each boasting international and State of Origin representatives, will be key to each team coming away with the two points from Round 17.
Taumalolo is confident that his teammates will be able to step up and deny the Raiders their field position, and assist little men Jake Granville and Lachlan Coote, as well as Cowboys debutant Te Maire Martin, in attack and defence.
"Obviously they've named a pretty big forward pack and there's no other reason why than to take us through the middle. How we handle Saturday night's game, we'll either win it or lose it through the middle," Taumalolo said.
"Saturday night is going to be a big one for us, and we'll be trying to help the little boys... so I'm sure they'll hold their own on Saturday night."
Taumalolo is hopeful that he and his teammates will be up for the challenge, so he doesn't have to repeat his performance against the Raiders in Round 1, where he ran for 295 metres.
The New Zealand representative is confident that his teammates Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess will be at their best, after putting in herculean efforts against the Panthers, three days after playing in Origin II.
Hess ran for 230 metres off the bench, while Gavin Cooper made 39 tackles after making 47 in his Origin II performance.
"I'm sure after a good Origin win like that their confidence is boosted. 'Hessy' has been doing a good job for us all year and 'Coops' has been as consistent as ever," the lock-forward said.
"For them to get a couple of days break after backing up from Origin, that's good for them and hopefully their bodies have fully recovered and they're ready to go again."
First published on NRL.com.