At 191cm and 113kg, North Queensland enforcer Jason Taumalolo should find it hard to fly under the radar.
Especially after a breakthrough 2015 NRL season.
However, the Kiwi juggernaut reckons he is looking forward to doing just that next year, thanks to the return of South Sydney’s Sam Burgess.
Taumalolo’s inspirational 2015 effort appeared a hard act to follow for the Cowboys battering ram.
He finally delivered the consistency he once craved, earning Dally M Lock of the Year honours on his way to an historic NRL title for North Queensland.
But Taumalolo said he wasn’t feeling pressure to back up his heroics, thanks to code-hopper Burgess’s celebrated return to the Rabbitohs.
If anything, the Kiwi brute thinks all eyes will be on the Clive Churchill Medal-winning star next year.
South Sydney’s drought-breaking 2014 premiership inspiration Burgess has signed a three-year NRL deal with the Rabbitohs after a failed stint in English rugby.
“(With) the return of Sam Burgess … I’m kind of not pressured now to back it (2015 heroics) up, so a lot of the pressure will be on him to play a good season of footy,” Taumalolo said.
“But I’ll be there competing alongside him and it will obviously be good to come across Sam again.
“I have a bit of an underdog mentality.
“But Sam Burgess is probably the best lock in the game at the moment, followed by (Brisbane’s) Corey Parker.”
Taumalolo did not know whether he would feature in the official season kick-off – the Auckland Nines – or a blockbuster grand final rematch trial against Brisbane in Bundaberg on February 6 before they depart for the World Club Challenge in England.
NRL champs North Queensland will tackle English Super League victors Leeds in the UK on February 21.