Jason Taumalolo has declared he wants to be remembered as one of rugby league’s best ever, as his long-term North Queensland contract allows him to consider a lasting legacy.
Already considered the NRL’s premier forward, Taumalolo will assume a more senior role in a younger Cowboys’ forward pack when they kick off their season against Brisbane next Friday.
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Now into year three of his decade-long deal in Townsville, Taumalolo’s steam- rolling style has left every other club searching for a clone.
But if there was one fear when he signed his landmark $10 million contract it was that motivation could become an issue for the star back-rower.
Parramatta prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard admitted last month he fell into a comfort zone after signing for half that long at Penrith in 2018. And Taumalolo can understand how that happens.
“I guess that depends on the person. Everyone is different. Clubs do run the risk of that eventually happening,” Taumalolo told AAP.
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“Some players are different. Some players want more and are still hungry when they play. Some players don’t.
“I can see his point, losing motivation.”
But still only 26, he is adamant that will never become an issue for him. Instead, it has allowed him to set his sights on far bigger career goals.
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“Signing a long-term deal the motivation isn’t so much to try and get myself ready for another big year and do it for long periods of time,” Taumalolo said.
“I have moved past that stage.
“For me it’s trying to leave a legacy behind. I have come this far and I want to try and play the best footy I can.
“And hopefully that sticks with fans and people in rugby league, that one day I am one of the best to play the game.
“Legacy is driving me right now and probably for the rest of my career.”
Taumalolo is already some way towards achieving that.
He is the only player from outside of the spine to have won the Dally M Medal since 1990.
Jason Taumalolo at Cowboys training.Source:News Corp Australia
In 2017 became the first forward to top 5000 running metres in a season, while he has been the Cowboys player of the year for the past four seasons. His efforts off the field have been just as influential.
He kickstarted the Tongan revolution when he switched allegiances from New Zealand in 2017, having claimed wins over the Kiwis, Australia and Great Britain since.
And in 2020 he has already shown signs of being just as dangerous, with a powerhouse performance in North Queensland’s Nines title.
“Part of it is getting your body back to the physicality and getting hit,” Taumalolo said.
“That’s prepped me well leading into last week’s trials. I think I can only get better from here, so fingers crossed.”
Originally published asBest ever: Hunger driving Taumalolo to leave lasting NRL legacy
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