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Cowboys 2024 NRL squad analysis - middle forwards are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2024 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the middle forwards, led by stars Jason Taumalolo and Reuben Cotter.

>>> Part 1: Fullback

>>> Part 2: Outside Backs

>>> Part 3: Halves

>>> Part 4: Edge Forwards

>>> Part 5: Hookers

Jason Taumalolo (252)

The club legend is entering a remarkable 15th NRL season in 2024. Taumalolo endured an injury interrupted season in 2023, but was able to return from knee surgery just after mid-season. The 30-year-old continues to be one of the Cowboys’ most influential players, as he has been throughout his storied career.

Jordan McLean (201)

Now 32, McLean is the veteran of the Cowboys middle forward stocks. He was reliable as ever in 2023, appearing in 22 games, averaging 111 metres and 26 tackles. McLean will continue to be a leader, both on and off the field, of the Cowboys pack again next season.

Coen Hess (165)

Hess has sneakily risen to 14th in most appearances in Cowboys club history and could rise as high as 11th in 2024, passing club legends, Antonio Winterstein, Michael Morgan and James Tamou along the way. Now firmly entrenched as a middle forward, Hess has become a crucial member of Todd Payten’s rotation.

Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (67)

A regular member of Payten’s middle forward rotation in his two seasons at the club, Taunoa-Brown signed a one-year extension mid-way through last season. A big body with the ability to ball-play, Taunoa-Brown is also one of the Cowboys’ best defensive middles, missing just 11 of his 327 tackle attempts last season.

Reuben Cotter (59)

The reigning Wally Lewis Medalist for Player of the State of Origin Series, Cotter is widely regarded as one of the toughest players in the NRL. The Sarina Crocodiles junior is one of the first names picked in Payten’s team list each week and is one of the unquestioned leaders of the Cowboys’ forward pack.

Griffin Neame (43)

One of the breakout stars of the Cowboys’ 2023 campaign, Neame finished the season by claiming a Test debut for New Zealand in the end of season Pacific Championships, scoring a try in the final victory over Australia. Primarily a bench player so for in his career, Neame will be looking to claim a starting role in 2024.

Sam McIntyre (39)

A mid-season recruit from the Titans, McIntyre will be pushing for a Round 1 bench spot in 2024. A skillful ball-playing middle forward, McIntyre appeared in two games after joining the club in May.

D’Jazirhae Pua’avase (0)

A first-time member of the Cowboys’ Top 30, Pua’avase is a former schoolboy teammate of Jeremiah Nanai at Kirwan State High School. A towering middle forward, the 20-year-old has appeared in 10 games in the Queensland Cup over the previous two seasons and will be looking to lock down a starting spot at that level to begin 2024.

Emarly Bitungane (0)

Bitungane joins the Cowboys top squad on a Development Contract for 2024. An imposing and physical middle forward, Bitungane made his Queensland Cup debut in 2023 before a hip injury cut his season short. He will be looking to solidify a Queensland Cup starting spot to begin 2024.

Jamal Shibasaki (0)

The 2023 Mal Meninga Cup Player of the Year, Shibasaki managed four games at Queensland Cup level as an 18-year-old in 2023. The Ignatius Park College product also has the ability to play on an edge. Shibasaki will be searching for a Queensland Cup starting berth in 2024.

Kaiden Lahrs (0)

The 17-year-old son of former Kangaroos and NSW man mountain front-rower Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Kaiden joined the Cowboys NRL squad immediately after graduating from Kirwan State High School. Recovering from shoulder surgery, Lahrs will return through the under 19s competition, with the hope of graduating to the Queensland Cup by the end of 2024.

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.