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)

After spending a majority of the season experimenting with his role, Jason Taumalolo has become a "shadow his formerself", according to Michael Ennis.

The 2016 Dally M medalist has been forced to play a new role by coach Todd Payten for season 2021, a decision that has been heavily criticised due to the stars inability to impact games like yesteryear.

Yesterday, that role became an edge forward, diminishing Taumalolo's impact even further.

The star Cowboy has scored just a single try and has only made half the post-contact metres he accumulated in the previous season that saw him win his fifth consecutive Paul Bowman Medal.

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His 2021 season has been largely ineffective compared to the lofty heights Taumalolo's game had reached over the past five years, with many analysts believing the influence of Payten over his role has been a major factor in his form drop.

NRL star and Fox League analyst Michael Ennis has called for coach Payten to put an end to the Taumalolo experiment.

“Again it is a sign that Todd Payten is really struggling about how to unlock Jason Taumalolo,” Ennis said on The Big League Wrap.

“He hasn’t been able to do it all season and as much as Jason has still had games where he has had a big impact, I feel like it has been a very, very quiet season. Moving him out onto an edge today he looked lost for periods of the game. He struggled to get himself into the game at times."

“He was just running block(s)...you want Jason with his hands on the footy through the middle.”

With the majority of Taumalolo's best footy coming when he was a pure forward, the decision to move him out to the edge was a peculiar one. A move back is the likely solution for Taumalolo's relatively quiet season, as that is where the Cowboys star did most of his damage during North Queensland's 2015 and 2017 grand final campaigns, making a name for himself and earning a ten-year deal to stay in Townsville.

“You think back to the time that the Cowboys went on that surge and won the premiership in 2015 and made the grand final in 2017, Jason was ferocious through the middle." Ennis continued.

“Jason would often come back with half an hour remaining in the game and he would leave the field with around 85 to 100 metres and he would come back and finish the game around 250. That last half an hour from Taumalolo was as good as you will see from a modern-day forward and he dominated the competition."

"He has been a shadow of that."

Despite calls for the Taumalolo edge experiment to cease, Todd Payten has stood firm, stating that he will persist until the end of the season.

"I'm going to see it out the next few weeks," Payten said post the Cowboys convincing 36-14 loss to the Gold Coast Titans.

North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage and Fan Day In Ayr
AYR, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cowboys coach Todd Payten looks on during a North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage game against the Townsville Blackhawks at Rugby Park on February 13, 2021 in Ayr, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

"It's a starting point for him. Our [lack of] ball possession limits his impact in the game.

"Jase on an edge in today's game didn't have the impact desired but it's something for us to work on."

The comprehensive defeat in the hands of the Titans was the Cowboys eighth straight loss, putting the final nail in the coffin for what has been a disappointing 2021 campaign.

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Taumalolo's infancy in the edge position was notable during the Titans loss, with analyst Greg Alexander highlighting it during commentary of the game.

"He looks at sea," Alexander said of Taumalolo.

"He has only started on the edge five times since 2015. That is six years of playing in the middle and only five cracks on the edge.

"They have got to try something because it hasn’t been working. But I don’t think the answer is Taumalolo on an edge. He is not going to stay there."

With Taumalolo all but confirmed to be cemented into his new role for the remainder of the 2021 season, things will likely get worse for the Cowboys before they get better.

The Cowboys host the 13th placed West Tigers this Saturday in what is a must-win game for Payten's side to help restore the faith of the Cowboys fans.