TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23: James Tamou of the Panthers walks from the field during the round 23 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Penrith Panthers at 1300SMILES Stadium on August 23, 2019 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Recently retired representative star James Tamou has announced he will continue his playing career after hanging up the boots to his NRL career.

Tamou, aged 34, returned to the Cowboys at the beginning of this year for one last hurrah after stints with the Penrith Panthers (2017-20) and the Wests Tigers (2021-22).

Making his debut for the Queensland club in 2009, he has played 172 games with the club (to date) and was a member of the team that won the Cowboys' maiden Grand Final in 2015 against the Brisbane Broncos.

Throughout his long, illustrious career, Tamou would go on to earn honours for Australia and New South Wales, playing 12 Tests for the Kangaroos and 14 games for the Blues between 2012-2016 - the prime of his career.

However, his football journey is not over yet, with the 2015 NRL premiership-winner signing with the Townsville Blackhawks under former Canberra Raiders playmaker Terry Campese.

Spending most of his final season in the NRL on the sidelines due to injury, Tamou revealed he is looking forward to getting back out there on the football field.

“It means a lot. The year just gone I was out with injury most of the year and watching footy the whole time, the fire I felt was still there and even now watching finals footy, I want to give it another crack,” Tamou told The Townsville Bulletin.

“This opportunity came up and I took it with both hands.

“Even if I wasn't playing at the Queensland Cup level, I think somewhere along the line I'd still be playing.

“Four young boys at home and we just love our footy. We play in the backyard all the time and they keep me on my toes and keep me fit.”

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: (L-R top) Josh Dugan, David Klemmer, James Tamou, Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita of the Blues pose during a New South Wales Blues NRL State of Origin team photo session at The Novatel on May 24, 2016 in Coffs Harbour, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Taking over the Townville Blackhawks, the incoming coach Terry Campese revealed that Tamou is the exact player that the QLD Cup side should base their new era around.

“He's an exceptional football player, he's a great human, he was awarded (Cowboys) club person of the year and that says it all,” Campese said.

“If you're winning awards like that then you want to be involved in your football club.

“He's a great first signing and he's going to be huge for this club. He's a big fella with great skills and footwork, but more importantly he's just a really good bloke.

“We want to surround this club with people like Jimmy and he's going to lead the way off the field which is just as important as on it.”

After the kind words Campese had for the former Cowboys, Panthers and Tigers forward, Tamou spoke about how good Campese has been in the role of coach and what he will bring to the Townsville Blackhawks for the upcoming 2024 QLD Cup season.

“People love using that word culture but don't really understand what it is. With age comes experience and with that culture you want to bring trust and a sense of belonging,” Tamou added.

“I remember playing against Campo and one thing that stood out, and still does, is that he's a competitor.

“With that value comes all the processes of what it takes to win games. It's getting the boys to understand that, getting the buy-in and getting the older ones and the leaders to understand his vision, so we can lead the way.”