It was like walking on eggshells at the North Queensland Cowboys on Tuesday.
Kiwi Test star Jason Taumalolo said he had put an alleged egg-throwing incident behind him after being the high profile player among five Cowboys accused of pegging them at cars in Townsville last week.
The North Queensland backrower reckoned he now only had Brisbane in his sights ahead of Friday night’s NRL sudden death semi-final in Townsville.
He claimed he owed his teammates a big game.
And it seemed only a standout display from Taumalolo would appease his teammates after clearly polarising the Cowboys player group ahead of the NRL grand final re-match.
Taumalolo and Tautau Moga were slapped with $2500 fines by the Cowboys on Monday over the Wednesday night incident, just days before the team’s first finals game.
All five players involved face court next month on wilful damage charges.
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston could not hide his disappointment with Taumalolo on Tuesday.
And he was obviously unimpressed the matter had become a talking point ahead of a match that threatened to derail their title defence.
Asked if he was concerned Taumalolo could still be distracted by the incident, Thurston said after a long pause: “Yes and no. (But) he’s a big boy.”
In contrast Test prop James Tamou believed Taumalolo had nothing to apologise for.
“I don’t think he has let anyone down,” he said.
“This year he has been one of our best players and I think his head is screwed on right for this game.”
For the record Taumalolo faced the music on Tuesday and admitted to a media scrum he had a point to prove against the Broncos.
“I owe it to the boys,” he said.
Just days after being charged, the New Zealand wrecking ball made little impact in North Queensland’s 16-10 opening finals loss in Melbourne last weekend, amassing 86m from eight runs.
“I need to put in a better performance. I thought I owed them one last week and didn’t come up with the goods,” Taumalolo said.
“I am not going to lie, it kind of got to me in the end (against Melbourne).
“It obviously affected my performance on the weekend, something I was pretty disappointed about.
“I didn’t help myself with the stupid things I did.
“It’s been a long couple of days. Today is all about moving on and focusing on Friday night.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green was confident Taumalolo had put the incident behind him.
“I think so, we have dealt with it. It’s last week’s news. As a club we have moved on,” he said.
“I would say he will bounce back with a big game on Friday night.”