Todd Payten has revealed that "some words and actions" were behind the North Queensland Cowboys' decision to release Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow at the back-end of 2022.

Tabuai-Fidow was joined by Connelly Lemuelu and Tom Gilbert in leaving the Cowboys at the end of 2022 to join NRL expansion club the Dolphins for 2023.

The NRL's newest club snapped a two-game losing streak on Friday evening in Townsville to send the Cowboys packing, making it four wins from their first six starts as an NRL club.

While the Cowboys struggled throughout the game, as they have for much of the first quarter of the season, it was the Dolphins who stole the show.

Tabuai-Fidow became the first player in the game's history to score in each of the first six games, and while Todd Payten said during his post-game press conference that he wasn't surprised to see Tabuai-Fidow playing well, there was a reason behind his release other than the fact Scott Drinkwater shone throughout 2022 after taking the first-choice fullback's spot following an injury.

"I'm not surprised," Payten said on Tabuai-Fidow.

"We made a decision around Hammer [Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow] based on some of his words and actions at the back-end of last year.

"I'm not disappointed or bitter about him playing well. He is a nice kid. He left here a better person and a better footballer, and the Dolphins are reaping some of those rewards."

Wayne Bennett pointed out the obvious though, suggesting it all came down to the fact that both Tabuai-Fidow and Drinkwater - two starting fullbacks - couldn't co-exist in the same team.

Bennett paid his thanks to the Cowboys for their respect in the handling of the situation and ultimate release of Tabuai-Fidow, who had already represented Queensland and will be back on Billy Slater's Origin selection radar this year.

"It was a pretty special night for them all [Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Tom Gilbert and Connelly Lemuelu]," Bennett said.

"It was nice to hear the crowd cheering Hammer when he did things. That's just respect, and I think that's really important in the game."

"I think Hammer was wanted here, but to their credit the Cowboys, they made another decision with Drinkwater and you can't have two of those players playing and one not playing."

Despite the form of Tabuai-Fidow, both Todd Payten and captain Chad Townsend were quick to remind of Drinkwater's talent.

"We are a better team when he plays," Payten said on Drinkwater.

"He has speed out the back of shape, has good vision, and makes us a better team. He will be better again next week."

Townsend admitted Drinkwater makes his own job easier.

"He is very dynamic, has a great footy brain, great IQ, and makes my job a lot better," Townsend added on the fullback.

"He sees things that I don't, and I've got a great relationship on and off the field with Drinky."

The loss to the Dolphins leaves the Cowboys with with just two wins from six games, sitting 14th spot on the table as they attempt to back up last year's magical run to the preliminary finals.