The other “JT” has impressed for North Queensland ahead of Friday night’s NRL derby clash with the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
JT is the man Brisbane back-rower Sam Thaiday fears most ahead of Friday night’s NRL clash with North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium – and it’s not Johnathan Thurston.
While the ex-Brisbane skipper rates Thurston the world’s best player after inspiring the Cowboys’ season-opening win over Canberra, Thaiday shudders at Jason Taumalolo’s potential impact.
No wonder – the 112kg baby-faced back-rower amassed a remarkable 207m in his first 80-minute effort as North Queensland held out the Raiders 28-22 after trailing 16-0.
Asked about his thoughts on Taumalolo, Thaiday simply said: “Wow”.
“He has pace, can run a great line and he is 100 something kilos – a very rare breed.
“He is going to be a fantastic player for many years to come.
“With him and JT (Thurston), we are going to have a big night.”
Thaiday joked that former Broncos strength and conditioning coach Andrew Croll – who linked with North Queensland after eight seasons in Brisbane – could be thanked for Taumalolo’s remarkable season start.
“Playing long minutes is something he had struggled with in the past,” he said.
“Props go to our ex-trainer for getting him fit and ready this season.”
Taumalolo justifiably held Thaiday’s attention after his round-one performance, which also included two line-breaks, five tackle busts and 22 tackles.
But Thaiday said they would not be underestimating Thurston, who all but confirmed his status as the world’s premier playmaker with his inspired turn last round.
“In my eyes, he is the best player in the world and has probably been for the last few years. Johnno showed his class on the weekend,” Thaiday said.
“At the moment, he is in form and happy off the field with his young family.”
But Thaiday believed Brisbane’s season-opening win over the Bulldogs showed they had the blueprint to stop a Thurston-inspired Cowboys.
“Just keep showing up for each other. That’s how you contain a player like Johnno,” Thaiday said.
“We will need to be good defensively again.
“They have two Australian front-rowers (Matt Scott, James Tamou) and I am sure Johhno will be fantastic rolling off those two.
“Then they have these big rigs out wide in Tariq (Sims) and Taumalolo – we have our hands full.”