Penrith Panthers hold North Queensland scoreless in dominant display
Todd Payten’s grand plan of managing Cowboys talisman Jason Taumalolo’s minutes in 2021 has been met with criticism after the Queenslanders went down 24-0 to the Panthers.
There isn’t a more damaging forward in the NRL than Taumalolo when he’s on song, and that presence was sorely missed at Panthers Stadium on Saturday night after the forward was hooked from the field in the 27th minute only to return in 57th with his side already well behind.
Payten is obviously wary of the burnout factor with Taumalolo who still has seven years left on his contract in North Queensland, and explained eariler in the week that he plans to change the game’s most destructive forward’s role in 2021.
But it’s a tactic that has left many a Cowboy fan miffed.
NRL great Braith Anasta was also in disbelief over the degree to which Payten enforced his new line of thinking, frequently questioning the move in commentary for Fox Sports.
“I’m not sure what Todd is thinking in this,” Anasata said.
“He needs to be on that field more than he has been. Where is Taumalolo? Get him on there!
“I’m just amazed he’s not out there.”
Taumalolo ultimately run a meager seven runs for 55-metres.
It prompted Benji Marshall and Cooper Cronk to both called for Taumalolo to get back to his usual best.
“Jason Taumalolo is usually a guy that runs over 200 metres a game is playing shorter minutes and we are not used to seeing that,” Marshall said post match.
“He needs to get more touches of the footy.”
“Seven runs for 55 metres for Taumalolo,” Cronk added.
“You want one of your best players and biggest impact players he has got to get the ball more.
“I know Todd Payten is trying to get more effective runs out of him by playing less minutes but the big guy needs his hands on the ball more.”
When the barnstorming forward eventually returned to the field the reigning minor premiers had already racked up four unanswered tries to open their season.
Grinding to an 8-0 lead by half-time, the Panthers would return for the second period to run in another 16 points in a second-half blitz.