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Ban, not extra scrutiny, bothers Taumalolo

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017 Laine Clark

Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys is tackled during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys. © Scott Barbour/Getty Images Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys is tackled during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys. Rather than worry about his tag as the NRL's $10-million man, North Queensland wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo says his sole concern is making amends for his two-match ban.

Taumalolo has come under intense scrutiny this season after signing his multi-million dollar 10-year deal with the Cowboys, but the 23-year-old said the only thing bugging him ahead of Saturday's NRL clash with Wests Tigers was his two-match suspension for a shoulder charge.

The New Zealand international was still kicking himself for letting his teammates down despite making a game-high 217m on his return in last round's 20-6 win over South Sydney.

"The two weeks they needed me the most, I wasn't there," the Cowboys lock said. "I felt I let the boys down.

"I could have taken the early guilty plea and missed that one match but I thought the boys needed me more than ever.

"I apologised to the boys for letting them down and promised them I'd come back and tear into the game. That's what I plan on doing."

Taumalolo admits he will need to get used to the spotlight after signing the lucrative deal that should make him a Cowboy for life, not that it bothers him.

"I've got 10 more years of it," Taumalolo laughed.

"But I felt more pressure coming back (from suspension) and trying to improve how the boys were playing more than anything.

"There was talk about the contract and how I'd perform after that and it didn't really bother me.

"I just wanted to continue the form I had in the first two weeks of the season."

So far, so good. The reigning Dally M Medallist has amassed more than 200m in all three NRL games he has played this year, a trend he hopes to continue against the Tigers.

"Things didn't go to plan and I copped that two-match ban but that is done and dusted and I can focus on playing good footy for the rest of the year," Taumalolo said.

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