Middle men on Shark alert
Rampaging North Queensland Toyota Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo says his team will not overplay their hand when looking to contain enigmatic Cronulla Sharks big man Andrew Fifita when the sides clash in Round 24 National Rugby League action on Saturday night.
Speaking to media after the Cowboys’ main training session of the week, Taumalolo said the team knows that Fifita is one of a bunch of Sharks forwards who will need to be contained, but he stopped short of saying that stifling the larger-than-life prop was a key to victory.
“He obviously has been playing well and he’s been a big part of their recent success, but I wouldn’t say particularly that he’s one to watch,” Taumalolo said.
“The last time we played them, he got that ball away to Townsend for a try which got them right back into the game; so, yeah, we’ll be aware of him, but they’ve got other threats there in the middle of the park also.”
The game Taumalolo was referencing was at Shark Park in Round 11, where the Cowboys let a 14-0 half-time lead slip to eventually lose 18-14 as the Sharks turned on a 16-minute, three-try blitz from the 50th minute to snatch the game from the Cowboys.
In an ominous-looking stat line for the match, Fifita ran 175m from 16 runs in 48 minutes of game time.
Taumalolo actually outdid the Sharks monsters, stat-wise on the night, running for 219m (95m post-contact) on 19 runs in 67 minutes, with 46 tackles to round off a huge night at the office.
The young bulldozer said similar efforts would be required - not just from him, but from his fellow middle forwards as well - at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday night as the Cowboys look to snap a three-game losing streak and clinch a spot in the 2017 finals series.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 7.30pm.