Taumalolo lauds young Tiger who tore Cowboys to shreds
IT WAS hardly the way he wanted his first game as Cowboys captain to go, but Jason Taumalolo identified a young Tiger who played a key role in dismantling their defence.
Wests hooker and Queensland Origin hopeful Harry Grant was a constant menace around the ruck, and the North Queensland lock applauded the efforts of the 22-year-old.
The Rockhampton-born talent's running game tormented the Cowboys through the middle, his six runs yielding 61m, two tackle busts and a linebreak. His creativity also assisted two Tigers tries and another pair of linebreaks to complement his 30 tackles.
There was no sugar coating the performance from the Tongan captain, so disappointed he was with the first half slump he refused to buy into their second half fightback as much of a positive.
It was too little too late by that point, and it all started with the dynamic No. 9 on the other side of the field.
"We just let them go through and poke their noses through pretty easily, and a good player like Harry Grant is going to punish us," Taumalolo said.
"He played his game out there and we made it look easy for him in that first half.
"We know he's a good footy player, a young kid taking his opportunity moving up from Melbourne - he's only going to get better."
Grant made the move to Wests on a one-year loan deal from the Melbourne Storm in a historic player swap with Paul Momirovski.
Tigers coach Michael McGuire refused to speculate after his side's 36-20 win on whether they would be able to keep the young gun beyond the 2020 season.
He said their focus was on the here and now and continue to watch him evolve into a future star.
"We'll just keep playing game by game, watch Harry grow and be a part of what we're doing this year," McGuire said.
"As long as he keeps playing good footy for us, he's great around the group and we watch him grow we'll see where it all goes. He's just enthusiastic, he's a competitor, and he works hard.
"You see him in the picture all the time, that's what you want from your number nine."
In a tale of two halves, Taumalolo appreciated the Cowboys ability to tighten the screws defensively after a lacklustre opening 40 minutes.
He also returned to his typical destructive best with ball in hand, churning out 235 running metres from 25 carries.
To go down 34-0 at the break and claim the second half 20-2 showed renewed resolve, but the stand-in captain said it was bittersweet given how they allowed the score to blow out.
"We were just chipping away trying to get back to what we were doing throughout training this week," Taumalolo said.
"It was working for us, but the disappointing thing is the way we played the first 40 was just disappointing defensively.
"To turn up in the second half and play the way we did, it was just two different halves.
"We need to play like that in the first half and not let 30-something points get away from us."
Originally published as Cowboys skipper identifies the man who tore open their defence