All eyes may have been on Jordan McLean at North Queensland on Tuesday after being handed the NRL club’s captaincy.
But the prop predicted a fired up Jason Taumalolo would be the main attraction in Friday night’s NRL clash with Gold Coast after he was targeted by the Titans.
McLean provided some much-needed good news for the Cowboys on Tuesday after it was revealed veteran back-rower Gavin Cooper would be sidelined for at least a week with a calf injury.
A popular pick as skipper, McLean will take the reins from playmaker Michael Morgan (shoulder), who may miss another three weeks.
Front-rower McLean provided the Cowboys another shot in the arm when he activated a two-year option, ensuring he will stay up north until the end of the 2022 season.
“I am really starting to love the place up here,” the Sydney-born McLean said.
“I reckon over the next few years we will do something special and hopefully this year could be it.”
Arguably what gave McLean the greatest joy was being reminded of a Monday newspaper story in which Titans lock Jai Arrow claimed he planned to shut down Taumalolo.
“I enjoy it when people come out and say stuff about Jase,” McLean said.
“He always turns up and performs when people talk about him (and) I am sure it has lit a fire under him – hopefully he goes out and runs 350m.”
Taumalolo has already set the bar high in 2020, setting an NRL record for most run metres by a forward in a match (318m) in the Cowboys’ win over Canterbury in round two.
Coach Paul Green expected big things from McLean after overlooking victorious Nines skipper Taumalolo and veteran forward Josh McGuire for the captaincy.
“To be honest I think he has been a reluctant leader but he has certainly got good leadership qualities,” Green said.
“By giving him that extra responsibility hopefully that will bring out the best in him – I am pretty confident that will be the case.”
Queensland back-rower Cooper would no doubt have been in the captaincy mix if he had not been sidelined.
“He’s only just got back into full unrestricted training” Green said of Cooper.
“He is probably not worth the risk at this stage to play him… I expect he won’t be out for too long.”