Dubbed the next Sonny Bill Williams by the age of 18, Kiwi wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo's star rose swiftly in the NRL.

And doubts created by the hype almost drove the North Queensland forward out of the game just as quickly.

Now 23, Taumalolo will play his 100th game for the Cowboys on Monday night at Cronulla - much to his surprise.

"I had my doubts back in the day," he said of the early hype after his 2010 NRL debut while still in year 12.


"I never thought I would be playing 100 games for this great club."

Cowboys coach Paul Green paid tribute to Taumalolo ahead of his milestone match, saying no one should have undergone the pressure his charge endured.

"I am very proud of Jase. He had to deal with the next Sonny Bill Williams headline and I don't think that is healthy," Green said.

"If we just let them develop and judge them for what they do, they will reach their potential."

Green was aware of the criticism Taumalolo had copped when he took up the Cowboys' reins in 2014 but had no complaints with the hulking lock.

"There was a bit of criticism of him early but that tends to happen when people want to put tags on young players," he said.

"It's the same for any player. Invariably, they are going to have dips in form then everyone wants to bag them, saying they are not as good as the raps on them - that puts pressure on young players.

"It's not very healthy or helpful for their development and Jason was probably a victim of that.

"But since I have been here, he has been nothing but professional.

"It's a credit to him to get his 100 games up."

Taumalolo said he still had plenty more improvement left.

"A lot of it has come down to growing up, maturing and trying to fulfill my potential," he said of his turnaround.

"I am still learning. I still have a few years to go.

"But 100 games will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Queensland utility Michael Morgan was named to make his NRL return against the Sharks.

The five-eighth missed last-round's win over Newcastle after copping a head knock in the Maroons' State of Origin game-one win.