A North Queensland premiership can rid James Tamou of his State of Origin nightmare.
Tamou was a key part of the NSW side that travelled to Brisbane for State of Origin III, full of hope of creating their own interstate dynasty after they finally broke Queensland’s eight-year stranglehold on the series in 2014.
But as history shows the Maroons, in one of the most complete team efforts seen in modern-day rugby league, blitzed the Blues 52-6 to deliver the most humiliating of footballing lessons to reclaim their Origin crown.
Prop Tamou – the only Blues representative in a Cowboys side that contains Maroons stars Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Michael Morgan – and his bullock-like surges have been instrumental in North Queensland’s charge to Sunday’s NRL grand final against Brisbane.
But the 26-year-old only found his late-season form after weeks of soul searching following NSW’s game-three capitulation.
“That State of Origin game three was just so tough and that really put me off for a few weeks after,” Tamou told AAP.
“I think I was struggling a bit footy-wise and just attitude-wise the next few weeks after, it was such a dreadful game. We had put so much into it and for it to end the way it did was pretty hard to take.
“After losing the State of Origin series the way we did, it would be good to salvage something from the season by winning on Sunday.”
Tamou’s participation in the finals series was initially put on hold by an ongoing neck complaint. He suffered a ‘stinger’ in the Cowboys’ preliminary final win over Melbourne. But said he is feeling good in the lead-up to the premiership decider.
“I had that ‘stinger’ there but it is all all right now,” he said.
“The body is feeling good. I’m feeling good and I’m pretty happy with the way I have been going.
“But if there is one thing I know it’s that we are going to have to lift it up to another level for Sunday against Brisbane.
“They had been great this year and they were again against the Roosters.
“But it is a challenge we are very much looking forward to.”