James Tamou wants to be able to look his North Queensland teammates in the eye when he says goodbye and exits Townsville at the end of the NRL season, but at the moment the representative prop fears that won’t be the case.
Three successive losses has the Cowboys’ premiership defence on the brink of collapse.
Their top four hopes are very much up in the air and skipper Johnathan Thurston has warned his North Queensland teammates if they don’t quickly get their act together they will miss the finals altogether.
That would be an unthinkable end to a celebrated Cowboys’ experience for Tamou, who was a key plank in their breakthrough 2015 title success and will take up a four-year deal with Penrith at season’s end.
“That would be heartbreaking, no way would I want to leave the Cowboys (without finals),” Tamou said.
“There is that motivation for me personally for sure, and as a team we are just not quite there at the moment.”
Tamou said the Cowboys’ hunger to be the first side to claim back-to-back titles since Brisbane in 1992-93 remained.
“Greeny (coach Paul Green) has really installed (the hunger) into us and the question is there: ‘Is last year enough?’ and it is not,” Tamou said
“That hunger is there and with it being my last year here I want to make the most of it.”
The Cowboys face the Warriors, Canterbury and Gold Coast over the final three rounds. NSW and Kangaroos prop Tamou said North Queensland needed to be as desperate as other sides had been to them.
“We are just off the pace at the moment and we need to turn it around, we can’t be thinking of finals footy,” he said.
“We just have to do it on the field rather than talking about it.
“Obviously it is around the corner, finals. But in saying that we need to pull the handbrake and start looking to next week and not the finals.
“It is a tough run home. These losses should be a real kick up the bum for us. A similar thing happened last year and we turned it around so we can look to that for confidence.”