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Taumalolo reveals struggle with NRL hype

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/06/2016 Laine Clark

Dubbed the next Sonny Bill Williams by the age of 18, Kiwi wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo's star rose swiftly in the NRL.

And doubts created by the hype almost drove the North Queensland forward out of the game just as quickly.

Now 23, Taumalolo will play his 100th game for the Cowboys on Monday night at Cronulla - much to his surprise.

"I had my doubts back in the day," he said of the early hype after his 2010 NRL debut while still in year 12.

"I never thought I would be playing 100 games for this great club."

Cowboys coach Paul Green paid tribute to Taumalolo ahead of his milestone match, saying no one should have undergone the pressure his charge endured.

"I am very proud of Jase. He had to deal with the next Sonny Bill Williams headline and I don't think that is healthy," Green said.

"If we just let them develop and judge them for what they do, they will reach their potential."

Green was aware of the criticism Taumalolo had copped when he took up the Cowboys' reins in 2014 but had no complaints with the hulking lock.

"There was a bit of criticism of him early but that tends to happen when people want to put tags on young players," he said.

"It's the same for any player. Invariably, they are going to have dips in form then everyone wants to bag them.

"It's not very healthy or helpful for their development and Jason was probably a victim of that."

Taumalolo said he still had plenty more improvement left but says 100 games is milestone he will always cherish.

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