Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Ever since the 2017 NRL Grand Final North Queensland has in large part been reliant on one player to be the difference-maker in their side and that player is Tongan International Jason Taumalolo.
Despite the Cowboys finishing in the bottom four every year since 2018, Taumalolo has consistently put in strong performances for the club and has been their best performing player in the majority of their games.
It is for that reason Cowboys fans had reasons to worry when reports began to emerge that Taumalolo was unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as that would have prohibited him from playing regularly in 2022.
The Cowboys are one of the favourites to take out the dreaded wooden spoon this year after a near half decade of disappointment, and if Taumalolo had been ruled out then this would have added to the list of things the club has to be concerned about.
However, Taumalolo has spoken to The Courier Mail’s Peter Badel and has confirmed that he is COVID compliant and will be eligible to play this season.
“The one thing I will say is that I have the green light to play in round one and that’s all that matters,” said Taumalolo.
#EXCLUSIVE: Jason Taumalolo was one of fewer than 10 NRL players yet to agree to vaccination. But after a warning from the Cowboys, the skipper has broken his silence on his Covid battle, via @badel_cmail https://t.co/M45ZB46qCj
— Courier Mail Sport (@cmail_sport) February 7, 2022
“I have a pretty strong opinion that my medical information is for myself only and I like to keep it that way, but I will be playing this season for the Cowboys.
“I’m happy I get to play and I’m glad I’m OK to play in the NRL this year.”
Cowboys fans have further reason to rejoice, as the 28-year-old has also stated that he would like to remain at the club for the rest of his career, casting doubts on the rumours from last year that he may have been looking to leave the Cowboys after a falling out with head coach Todd Payten.
“In a perfect world, I would like to finish my playing career here in North Queensland,” he said.
“I have enjoyed every bit of it: the lows, the highs, winning the premiership (in 2015) and even through these tough years, I have enjoyed it all.
“I love the Cowboys and my aim is to finish as a one-club man and stay here in Townsville.”
The Cowboys will kick off their 2022 NRL campaign in a little over a month as they host the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on the 13th of March.