Hampton out to prove he's not just a stop-gap measure

Ben Hampton was one of the NRL's most versatile players last year after being called on to fill various roles with the Cowboys.

Since joining the club in 2017, Hampton has been used at fullback, in the halves and as a back-up hooker to Jake Granville.

On Saturday the Mareeba Gladiators junior has another shot to press his claims to become a regular starter when he lines up in coach Paul Green's revamped team to face the Sharks.

Green wielded the axe after last week's loss to the Broncos, making several changes.

Hampton said he had been experiencing mixed emotions this week.

"You always want to be in the team," he said.

"Sometimes it can really get you down but you have to try and take the positives out of it and look to improve and really work hard to get back into it.

Cowboys centre Ben Hampton.
Cowboys centre Ben Hampton. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"I probably didn't have the best trial. That's what hurt me the most, just a few little areas I had to clean up. I only played that one game in Q-Cup. I'm pretty excited to be back in the side."

Hampton is the final season of a three-year deal with the Cowboys. The 27-year-old spent four years with the Storm and was part of the club's 17-man grand final team in 2016 before signing with North Queensland.

Hampton has replaced demoted centre Tom Opacic for Saturday's game and is looking to apply the skills he worked on in the off-season.

"I feel pretty confident there, that's where I did most of my training in the pre-season. It's a tough position to defend in," he said.

"I'll be sniffing around the ruck and trying to get a few quick runs in like I did last year. Running is probably my biggest strength so I'll definitely be looking to do plenty of that over the weekend."

Green has shifted Te Maire Martin to fullback and elevated Jake Clifford to play in the halves alongside Michael Morgan.

Hampton is no stranger to fullback and reckons Martin will excel with the extra room to move.

"Te Maire will be fine," he said.

"He's an international player. He's got a good footy head on him, he can pick teams apart."

Meanwhile, forward Jordan McLean said losing Jason Taumololo to a medial ligament injury was an obvious setback but is confident the Cowboys will spread the workload across the pack.

"Everyone knows what he [Taumololo] brings and his running game's his strength." McLean said.

"We want him playing but at the same time we've got a real good pack and some younger boys are coming back into the team, so we just need to start with energy and just be in the contest."

McLean said the Cowboys had rallied around Taumalolo.

"He's obviously feeling a bit down but that's normally the way you feel for the first week or two until you get your head around what's actually happened," he said.

"He's been training and we just want him back out there."