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Cowboys 2021 Paul Bowman Medal contenders

After an injury interrupted season, North Queensland Toyota Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo will have a fight on his hands to claim a historic sixth consecutive Paul Bowman Medal at Thursday’s End of Season Awards Night.

Taumalolo has been named the Cowboys’ best in each of the previous five seasons, but three separate stints on the sideline with broken hands limited the 28-year-old to just 15 games in 2021.

>>> Cowboys Rookie of the Year contenders 

Forwards Coen Hess and Jordan McLean have both enjoyed outstanding seasons in which they appeared in 22 and 24 games respectively.

After a shaky start to the season, Hess was shifted from second-row to middle forward – a move that immediately paid dividends. The 25-year-old enjoyed a career rejuvenation with a simplified role and became an on-field leader for the Cowboys.

After having much of his first three seasons as a Cowboys affected by injury, McLean appeared in all 24 games for the first time in his nine-year NRL career.

Hooking duo Reece Robson and Jake Granville will also be in the mix for Player of the Year after strong, but contrasting seasons.

Robson started all 24 games of the season in the No.9 jersey, crossing for six tries. Granville became the Swiss Army Knife for Todd Payten. After a brilliant start to the season as a late-game injection from the interchange, Granville started games at fullback and centre at the back end of the season, both of which were career firsts for the 32-year-old.

Outside back Murray Taulagi will also feature heavily in the voting after a breakout season in the NRL. The 22-year-old started the season in the Queensland Cup, but was recalled to the top grade in Round 3 and never relinquished his spot, scoring 10 tries in 20 games.

Playmaker Scott Drinkwater and outside back Valentine Holmes were again the main source of attack for the Cowboys in 2021. Drinkwater led the club with 17 try assists, while Holmes kicked the Cowboys to with last-minute field goals in Rounds 9 and 12.