Cowboys legend tips Taumalolo for big return
COWBOYS legend Laurie Spina has backed the rampaging Jason Taumalolo to make a major difference for the side on his expected return this weekend.
The Tongan international is expected to be announced in Paul Green's 17-man line-up Tuesday afternoon after narrowly missing out on facing the Bulldogs last weekend.
It is understood Taumalolo was involved in the Cowboys final training run before flying out to Sydney, but could not quite meet conditions for his return from a Grade 3 medial injury.
While Green would not be set on whether Taumalolo would take the field against the Titans at the Gold Coast on Friday night, it is understood the club will give him every opportunity to prove his fitness.
Spina, who was the inaugural captain of the Cowboys when they entered the ARL in 1995, said the barnstorming forward could prove a major difference on his return.
"They have certainly been missing him," Spina said.
"Just the yardage that he makes and the damaging runs that he makes, they have been missing that."
"I am sure he will make a difference to the side."
If Taumalolo does make his return at 1300SMILES Stadium on Friday night, it would fit on the shorter side of the Cowboys' initial estimate of 6-10 weeks on the sideline.
But Spina admitted the side should not rush his return if it comes at the cost of further potential injury.
"They don't want to really make him come back too early," he said. "If he was ready for a return they would need all he can offer.
"(Jason) is a smart man, he will wait for the clearance from the medical staff before he comes back."
Taumalolo was at his damaging best in the Cowboys first-round win over the Dragons, producing a mammoth 301m with the ball in hand from a 62-minute stint at lock. He also made six tackle breaks, two line breaks and laid on a try for Te Maire Martin.
But after he injured his knee in heavy contact against the Broncos, the Cowboys have struggled to rediscover their first-round form.
Spina said as a fan it had been tough to watch at times as the Cowboys slumped to a 2-5 record to start the season after their last-round loss to the Bulldogs.
"It has been a little bit tough to watch," he said. "They started really well last weekend and finished the game really well, but there was a long time in between.
"It is such a high standard in the NRL now that if you are even a little bit off the good teams will make you hurt.
"There are errors at the wrong time and there is a bit of soft defence. They are just not putting in a full 80-minute performance."
The game against the Titans will be a good opportunity for both teams to kick start their seasons, with the visitors also struggling a 2-5 to start the year.
"It is a very important game this weekend," Spina said.