Jason Taumalolo will need to pass a medical test on his problematic left knee before he is made available for New Zealand’s Four Nations series.
The North Queensland lock’s dominant run in the back-half of the NRL season has made him not only a shoo-in for the Kiwis Test side for the northern hemisphere tour, but also a contender for the Dally M Award.
However he has revealed he has again been plagued by a medial ligament injury in his knee, which could rule him out of a New Zealand squad for the third-time in two years.
“I’ve had the same knee problem from last year and it was kind of bothering me towards the back-end of the year,” he said.
“After you’ve done your medial about three times it starts to get a bit dodgy so obviously it’s taken its toll.
Taumalolo was ruled out of last year’s tour of England with a similar injury, while he also missed the 2015 Anzac Test against Australia as part of a month-long stint on the sidelines due to the same problem.
He is almost certain to be added to the Kiwis’ train-on squad on Monday, after his Cowboys were knocked out of the NRL finals on Friday night.
He will undergo a medical test with the Cowboys next week to determine whether he can add to the five Tests he played for the Kiwis since 2014 when the tournament begins next month.
Despite the threat of post-season surgery, the North Queensland forward has warned rivals he is set to return with an even more dynamic game next season.
The 23-year-old broke 75 tackles this year, but only provided nine offloads for the team that ranked the lowest in the NRL in that category.
The club has also lost James Tamou, who provided the second most offloads (20) throughout the 2016 season.
And it’s an area the Rugby League Players’ Association players’ player for 2016 wants to improve on ahead of next year.