Warriors playmaker Blake Green believes North Queensland powerhouse Jason Taumalolo poses a greater threat in the middle despite his renowned ability to wreak havoc out wide.
Cowboys coach Paul Green has persisted in using the Auckland-born 25-year-old closer to the action, despite many critics believing his size, power, footwork and ball skills are better utilised two passes wide of the ruck.
Ahead of Friday night's NRL showdown in Townsville, Green rubbished theories that the Kiwi-turned-Tongan international would be easier to contain in his battering ram role in the centre of the field.
"He's a tough fella to stop it doesn't matter where it is," said Green.
"I've heard that they're using him as a battering ram but he's also got great footwork in the middle of the field and he can generate speed there.
"Very rarely does he get up to play the ball and everyone is set, he's normally left a few people on the ground and the numbers in the defensive line are out and people are scattered."
Last year's grand finalists may be struggling down in 14th spot on the ladder, but Taumalolo is still setting the standard for forwards across the NRL.
The 25-year-old lock bends the line better than any other player, with a competition-high 997 post-contact metres so far this season. He is also second behind Roosters wing Blake Ferguson in run metres (2,369) and all runs (240), while he is equal fourth for tackle busts with 66.
The Warriors head to 1300Smiles Stadium looking to build on last week's impressive 34-14 win over Manly and are searching for back-to-back victories for the first time since their round five 22-12 win over the Cowboys in Auckland.
Their hopes of finding consistency and consolidating their spot in the top four will hinge largely on their ability to limit Taumalolo's impact and stifle his combinations with Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston and fullback Michael Morgan.
"When he carries the ball in the middle with some support around him and Thurston and Morgan are out the back, it's hard to make a decision whether to go in on Jason because he can also move the footy," said Green.
"I think that's his best position, but on the edge he can be just as dangerous - but he gets to touch the footy more in the middle then he would on the edge."
Warriors lock Adam Blair agrees Taumalolo still poses a huge threat running in traffic, as there is still plenty of room to be found around and behind the play the ball.
"No way (is he easier to handle)," said Blair. "For someone of his ability, wherever there's space is the best place to use him, and at times you're still going to find space in the middle.
"The most important thing for being able to use Jase most effectively is when there's good ruck speed, because it's hard when he's coming off the back fence and coming at the defence when you can't get off your line. That's up to them."
The Warriors are set to welcome back captain and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from an ankle injury, but David Fusitu'a was scratched from the side last night with Gerard Beale replacing him on the right wing. Back-up halfback Mason Lino is the other player to drop out from the extended 21-man squad named on Tuesday.
Coach Stephen Kearney is wary of the Cowboys who prior to last week's 20-14 loss to Parramatta, showed grit in recent one-point defeats to Souths and Melbourne.
"They won't be happy with their performances in terms of the results they've been getting but a couple of weeks ago it was 7-6 to Melbourne and they got beat 20-19 against South Sydney, so they've been going a lot better than everyone keeps telling you and that's what we're preparing for," said Kearney.
"They've got some wonderful players and the focus for us is on taking our best performance to Townsville."
Cowboys v Warriors at 1300Smiles Stadium, Friday, 8pm
UPDATED TEAM LISTS:
Cowboys: 1 Michael Morgan, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Enari Tuala, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Javid Bowen, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Shaun Fensom, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Sam Hoare, 19 Ethan Lowe, 21 Francis Molo
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 18 Gerard Beale, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Isaiah Papali'i, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Adam Blair
Interchange: 14 Karl Lawton, 15 Chris Satae, 16 Bunty Afoa, 17 Simon Mannering, 20 Ligi Sao, 21 Anthony Gelling
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