Taumalolo’s new mindset puts fun back in footy
COWBOYS wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo says he's finally enjoying his football again after admitting he was "stuck in my own head" during North Queensland's five-game slump.
The mood has been much more jovial at training this week after the Cowboys got their season back on track with a 24-16 win over the Titans, with players even warming up with a game of dodgeball on Monday afternoon.
Taumalolo was back at his destructive best against the Titans, running for a game-high 151m, but he conceded it hasn't been easy to keep himself in the right headspace over the early rounds.
The Tongan superstar was critical of his own form during their rough patch, despite still averaging 155m per game, before he realised the only way to rediscover his mojo was to stop overthinking it.
"The more I thought about it, the more it got to me. It was just all about going back to the basics and just enjoying playing footy," Taumalolo said.
"For me to be stuck in my own head and losing a bit of confidence in myself obviously doesn't help the rest of the boys either.
"I wanted to play with a lot more confidence and just try to go back to having fun and last week I definitely found that. It's just all about improving and trying to get better each week.
"The more I enjoy footy, the more confident I get in myself and that seems to carry on to the other players and everyone seems to be playing well.
"The boys are starting playing how they used to and you get into a bit of rhythm and the rest just flows off the back of that. It's great to see the boys being themselves again after a win."
Expectations on Taumalolo were sky high this season after he carried the Cowboys to a fairytale grand final last year as the first forward in the NRL era to run for more than 5000m in a season.
It was always going to be tough to reproduce those incredible numbers as he averaged 194m every week and the easy-going lock forward said he his only concern was how the team is performing.
"A lot of people have been more critical of me after last year and the year before and that's all right with me, I guess," Taumalolo said.
"My numbers aren't going to stay up that high every time so for me it's all about just doing my part, whether it's taking a few carries or making more tackles.
"When you're enjoying it, everything else seems to come with it. To get back to that (last year's form) I need to get back to playing good footy first. For me to do that, it's just about having fun.
"All that matters for myself is how I think I'm going and how I can play my best footy."