Revealed: True terror of Taumalolo
You know it's coming.
Like trying to restrain a rhinoceros, you know that the longer you wait to let go the more carnage he will ultimately cause.
As his side's unlikely finals charge gathers more and more momentum Paul Green firms as a leading Dally M Coach of the Year contender but his greatest feat in 2017 may in fact be what he has resisted to do all season.
As his team lost their two most prominent leaders Green resisted the temptation to turn Jason Taumalolo into an 80-minute player, instead holding him back, waiting to be unleashed in second-half stints that invariably swings momentum when it matters most.
Statistics exclusively obtained by NRL.com from Prozone show clearly that the points differential for the Cowboys is at its best when Taumalolo returns for his second stint, usually midway through the second half.
With their season hanging by a thread trailing the Wests Tigers 10-6 as the second half of their Round 25 match wore on, Green continued to hold his nerve and waited until the 53rd minute before sending his bustling behemoth back into the fray.
The result was an astonishing nine-minute period in which the Cowboys scored three tries, defeated the Tigers 22-14 and earned the final two competition points that would ultimately seal their finals fate.
The Cowboys' points differential for the regular season finished at +24 but the advantage in their favour swings far more heavily when you examine Taumalolo's influence in the second half.
When Taumalolo is off the field in the second half the Cowboys have scored 62 points and conceded 60 yet when he is on that changes dramatically to 173 points scored and 118 against for a points differential of +55.
Teammates such as Kane Linnett don't spend the second half wondering exactly when their not-so-secret weapon will return but immediately notice his impact when he does.
"When you're feeling mentally fatigued – especially in the big games going backwards and forwards trading sets – and then you see big Jase come on the field and have a couple of those inspirational runs," Linnett told NRL.com.
"It just gives you that extra little energy that you need towards the end of the game to have a couple of extra big efforts.
"I think the boys jump on the back of it which is good."
In the Cowboys' first two finals matches Taumalolo has run for 122 metres in 27 second-half minutes against the Sharks and then 123 in 24 minutes against the Eels last weekend.
Other than the 183 metres he amassed when he played the entire second half against the Tigers in Round 6, Taumalolo's best second half yield was 161 metres in 32 minutes against the Storm in Round 15.
He has played in excess of 70 minutes six times this season but captain Gavin Cooper praised Green for not trying to over-work the game's No.1 metre eater.
"You could stretch him out over 80 minutes if you wanted but you wouldn't get the powerful runs and the bigger hits that you usually get from Jase at the end of games," Cooper said.
"If he can get a good little break and come on in the second half and come on fresh when some of the other big boys are tired, it's massive for us.
"It's big for us but on the weekend we might have got momentum back and got in front in the second half with him on the bench.
"He was able to come on in the second half and really just do what he does and roll our team forward."
First published on NRL.com.