You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Cowboys 2023 NRL squad analysis - middle forwards are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2023 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the middle forwards headlined by co-captain Jason Taumalolo and Test star Reuben Cotter.

The players are ranked by their NRL experience with their career numbers of games in brackets next to their name.

>>> Part 1: Fullback

>>> Part 2: Centre/wing

>>> Part 3: Halves

>>> Part 4: Hooker 

>>> Part 5: Second-row

James Tamou (305)

A 2015 premiership winner with the Cowboys, Tamou returns to North Queensland after six seasons in Sydney. Tamou appeared in his landmark 300th game last season and will add invaluable experience and depth to the Cowboys pack.

Jason Taumalolo (236)

Entering his 14th NRL season, Taumalolo is still entrenched as one of the top forwards in rugby league. The 29-year-old enjoyed an emphatic resurgence last season after an injury-affected 2021. Taumalolo is penciled in to wear the Cowboys No.13 jersey again in 2023.

Jordan McLean (179)

McLean produced arguably the best season of his 10-year first grade career in 2022. The 31-year-old was robbed of a fairytale State of Origin debut by a training injury in NSW camp. Recently re-signed on a one-year deal, McLean shapes as a key cog in the Cowboys’ pack again in 2023.

Coen Hess (141)

The 2021 Paul Bowman Medalist, Hess enjoyed another terrific season in 2022. The 26-year-old burst into the NRL as a second-rower, but has played mostly middle-forward over the previous two seasons. Now 26, Hess is one of the leaders of the Cowboys forward pack.

Mitch Dunn (50)

Returning from an ACL injury suffered early last season, Dunn is due back inside the first two months of the 2023 campaign. The five-eighth, turned second-rower has now transitioned to the middle and provides a point of difference to the Cowboys attack through his ball-playing.

Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (50)

Taunoa-Brown appeared in 16 games, including six starts, during his first season as a Cowboy. The 26-year-old will again be firmly in the mix for a spot on the interchange in Round 1.

Reuben Cotter (39)

Remarkably still just 39 games into his NRL career, Cotter has emerged as one of the brightest rising stars in the NRL. The 23-year-old transitioned from hooker to prop/lock two seasons ago and has since gone on to play from Queensland and Australia.

Griffin Neame (26)

Neame enjoyed a break-out season in 2022, solidifying a regular first grade spot from the interchange. The 21-year-old was selected in an extended Kiwis squad for the mid-year Test. Neame will be searching for a larger role in Todd Payten’s side in 2023.

Riley Price (0)

Now in his second full season in the Cowboys top squad, Price will be searching for an NRL debut in 2023. The 21-year-old was a standout for the Townsville Blackhawks last season and also has the ability to play second row.

Taniela Sadrugu (0)

The former Fijian rugby sevens star, Sadrugu played mostly centre last season, but has transitioned into the forwards in the pre-season after an impressive World Cup campaign for Fiji. The 24-year-old was a revelation for the Blackhawks in 2022 and could be a smoky for an NRL debut at some point in 2023.

>>> Follow us on TikTok

>>> Cowboys full 2023 squad 

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.