North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten has acknowledged that he put too much pressure on the shoulders of Jason Taumalolo last season.

In a press conference that won't be soon forgotten, Payten called out his star lock. The Cowboys coach stated publicly he thought the Cowboys captain was taking the path of least resistance during games.

2021 was full of rumours of a poor relationship between coach and captain, with Payten's 'misuse' of Taumalolo being a talking point for the entire season.

While Payten admitted on NRL360 that he could have handled things better, he talked down any notion the two of them had a poor relationship last year.

“I’ve known Jason for a long time and we’ve got a really good relationship, he knows how I operate,” Payten said.

“Look I put a bit of pressure on him which in hindsight was not the right thing to do but we’ve come out the other side and knew it would all quieten down when we started to win.

“But for a little period there I was a little bit frustrated that it kept dragging on.

“These past six months it’s almost amusing. Both Jase and I laugh quite a bit around all that noise.

“There were some lessons for both of us along the way.”

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 28: Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys looks dejected after a Dragons try during the round 15 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium on June 28, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

As Payten said, all it would take to stop the chatter was winning, and it has.

The Cowboys have shocked the rugby league world so far in 2022. A team that some had finishing with the wooden spoon is now sitting third on the ladder as we approach Round 10.

The development of young players like Jeremiah Nanai, Hylum Luki, Murray Taulagi and Tom Dearden has been key. As has the introduction of a true halfback in Chad Townsend.

However, nobody has been more crucial to their performance in 2022 than Jason Taumalolo.

Taumalolo has not been bad in recent years, his team has just been losing. There is no doubting how instrumental he has been to the Cowboys success this year.