For as long as he can remember Jason Taumalolo has been compared to Sonny Bill Williams however the North Queensland hulk says it’s only when he stopped trying to emulate the cross-code star that he bloomed.
The Kiwi wrecking ball shapes as arguably the most important figure in the Cowboys’ finals charge following a stellar season which has seen him storm in Dally M contention.
Taumalolo ended the regular season averaging more metres than any forward in the game, once and for all stepping out of Williams’ shadow.
After coming into grade as a 17-year-old in 2010, Taumalolo sporadically hinted at his immense potential and often found himself in reserve grade.
The turning point in his career came with coach Paul Green’s arrival in Townsville in 2014, converting him from a powerful and damaging edge runner – like Williams – into a middle forward.
Since then he’s hardly looked back and proven a driving force behind the Cowboys’ success over the last two seasons.
“It’s refreshing going from the back row into the middle,” Taumalolo said.
“The lungs didn’t like it too much and I’ve slowly gotten used to my role in the team.”
Moving Taumalolo from the edges has proven a masterstroke by Green and his power and late footwork have made him one of the most effective forwards in the game.
Today, Taumalolo bristles at comparisons between himself and Williams, calling it “not much of a compliment”.
“I’ve had troubles with being compared to him,” Taumalolo said.
“We’re two completely different players and he had his era and hopefully I’ll step into mine.
“How we compare? We’ll never know because he’s been playing all over in different codes and doing different stuff.”