Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In recent years James Tamou has become one of the NRL’s best leaders.
With over 300 games in the league and representative experience, having played for the New South Wales State of Origin team and Australia, Tamou will be looked to by the North Queensland Cowboys’ young crop of forwards for guidance this offseason as he returns to the club for the first time since 2016.
Despite his resilient nature Tamou admitted in a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph’s Travis Meyn that the past 12 months at the Wests Tigers nearly convinced him to retire.
“There was about a month where I thought ‘I’ve got to find something else to do and get a job’,” said Tamou.
“I was trying to stay positive but with how some of the score lines were playing out there’s only so much you can take.”
Later in the interview, Tamou revealed he was planning on playing park Rugby League in 2023 until he was contacted by the Cowboys.
“It (playing footy) was just going to be something locally in the area I’m from down south then my manager called up and said the Cowboys were interested so I took it.” said Tamou.
“It wasn’t even about the logistics and numbers, I just said yes straight away because I knew I wanted to enjoy it and not have the weight of the team on my shoulders.
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) November 15, 2022
“I’m going to have to try hard to get into this team.”
At this stage in his career Tamou’s primary role at the Cowboys will be a leadership one and he will find it hard to make the first-grade squad.
Last season Reuben Cotter stunned fans everywhere when he reinvented himself as a prop while Jordan McLean has had a career resurgence and Griffin Neame stood out when coming off of the bench.
Tamou will likely be battling it out for a spot on North Queensland’s bench with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown who was moved between the Cowboys interchange and 18th-man role throughout 2022.
If Tamou has a strong preseason though it is hard to see him not getting a spot in the 17-man squad.