Jason Taumalolo has revealed the key area where he intends to become an even better player in 2018 by adding more strikepower to his already destructive arsenal of weaponry.
The 24-year-old Cowboys powerhouse has told NRL.com that he has the support and encouragement of star halfback Johnathan Thurston to increase his offloads this season and create more second phase play for the side’s attacking stars.
“Most people when they watch me play always see the destructive side, and think that all I can do is break tackles or run over someone,” Taumalolo told NRL.com.
“Trying to find a pass would be nice and trying to play a bit of second phase also, so it would be great if I could develop that part of my game.
“Johnno has always been harping on me trying to get my arm free because we have got a lot of great support players.
“I’m trying to find that extra pass because I attract a lot of defenders, and that will help guys like JT and Morgo (Michael Morgan) do their thing.”
Statistics from 2017 reveal that Taumalolo got away 1.3 offloads per game with a season tally of 28. That is well behind the leading forwards in the game.
Sea Eagles forward Martin Taupau led the field in the offload department with 71 at an average of 3.4 each match. Andrew Fifita, with 53 offloads at an average of 2.4 per game, and Paul Gallen (39 at 2.2 per match) are also well ahead of the Cowboys powerhouse in the same area.
Cowboys assistant coach Josh Hannay said it “might seem odd” that a player who busts the line and is so hard to put on the ground does not offload more, but added that if Taumalolo wanted to develop in that way there would be no stopping him.
“If you can break tackles and stand in tackles then you have the tools to offload. Jase certainly has that ability, so it is more about offloading the football becoming a focus for him,” Hannay told NRL.com
“Jase is a guy who can do anything he wants on the football field if he puts his mind to it, so if he sees an area in his game he might be deficient in and wants to work hard at changing it, then he has certainly got the tools to do it.
“The offload might be the last string to his bow that he develops.
“The great forwards in the game get better in their late 20s and early 30s so what we are seeing from him now is just scratching the surface.
“It is a scary prospect for other teams, but a great one for us.”
Taumalolo said he was feeling fresher in body and mind after his break following the World Cup campaign, but said he was not content with what he had already achieved in the game.
He said he’d learned from coach Paul Green, Thurston and co-captain Matt Scott that he needed to continue to take his game to another level as the years tick by.
“I take every year as a learning curve and I figure out what I need to do better and what I need to hang onto,” Taumalolo said.
“Greeny has been a great part of that and so have guys like JT and Matt Scott.
“They are always talking to me about what I can do with my game and how I can play better and a bit smarter.
“I can’t play the way I play [now] for the rest of my career. For myself, it is all about learning and trying to adapt to how my body works and feels every year.”