Cowboys.com.au are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2022 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the middle forwards including superstar Jason Taumalolo and reigning Paul Bowman Medalist Coen Hess.
The players are ranked by their NRL experience with their career numbers of games in brackets next to their name.
Jason Taumalolo (211)
The Cowboys skipper endured an injury-riddled 2021, which included three separate stints on the sidelines with broken hands. Taumalolo has risen to seventh on the Cowboys all-time appearance list and is set to pass Aaron Payne’s 219 games in 2022.
Jordan McLean (157)
The Cowboys veteran forward leader enjoyed the best season of his Cowboys career in 2021. After struggling with injuries in previous seasons, McLean appeared in all 24 games for North Queensland. He will form a fearsome middle forward rotation with Taumalolo and Coen Hess.
Coen Hess (118)
Hess enjoyed a remarkable 2021 season on a number of fronts. After a tough start to his campaign, Hess moved from second row to the middle and immediately provided a jolt of energy to the Cowboys pack. His season culminated in being named the 2021 Paul Bowman Medalist for Cowboys Player of the Year.
Lachlan Burr (76)
Brought over with Todd Payten from the Warriors, Burr provided instant aggression to the Cowboys forward pack in 2021. The 29-year-old appeared in 15 games during his first season in North Queensland and will fight for a spot in the first-choice Round 1 pack.
Mitch Dunn (48)
Like Hess, Dunn transitioned from second-row to the middle in 2021. The Mackay product added a new dimension to the Cowboys’ attack as a ball-playing middle and looks set for a spot on the interchange to open the season.
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (34)
Recruited from the Warriors, Taunoa-Brown has immediately impressed Cowboys coaches courtesy of a strong pre-season. The 25-year-old will tussle with a number of the other young middles on this list for an interchange spot in Round 1.
Tom Gilbert (23)
A broken leg in the pre-season halted the start of Gilbert’s season and restricted the young firebrand to just 11 NRL appearances in 2022. The 21-year-old will push for a spot in Payten’s Round 1 side as either a middle forward or on an edge.
Griffin Neame (3)
A towering red-head from New Zealand, Neame secured an NRL debut late in the 2021 season and played like a veteran. One of the hardest workers at the club, Neame is firmly in the mix for an interchange spot in the Cowboys’ Round 1 line-up.
Emry Pere (2)
Pere was unable to add to his two NRL appearances from 2020 last season as he battled concussion and a lack of football due to Covid-19 restrictions. A hulking front-rower from Huntly in New Zealand, Pere will be searching for consistent game time to start 2022.
Riley Price (0)
A Development Contract player in 2022, Price will look to build on a promising 2021 campaign for the Townville Blackhawks. The 20-year-old has battled a number of injury setbacks over the last three seasons, but has enjoyed a strong pre-season and will begin 2022 as a key player for Aaron Payne’s Blackhawks.