Amid growing speculation about Jason Taumalolo's long-term future with the North Queensland Cowboys, his agent Chris Orr has come forward to defend the landmark 10-year contract amid concerns over the star lock's health and performance.

The contract, which was a record-setting deal in rugby league when signed in 2017, ties Taumalolo to the Cowboys until the end of 2027, but recent developments have sparked debate over its viability.

Once a more formidable force, Taumalolo has recently been managed more cautiously by Cowboys coach Todd Payten due to a knee condition that required surgery last April. He was placed on a modified training regimen aimed at extending his career, with his game time reduced significantly this season.

This Saturday, he will start from the bench against Penrith, a move that has raised questions about his ongoing role on the team.

Despite the concerns, Orr remains optimistic about the value Taumalolo brings to the Cowboys.

"I think the deal has been good value for both parties. Let's not forget Jason has been the Cowboys' player-of-the-year six times which, within this long-term contract, isn't a bad return on investment in my eyes," Orr stated.

NRL clubs are increasingly cautious about long-term commitments, highlighted by the recent 10-year, $12 million deal signed by Tino Fa'asuamaleaui with the Titans. These contracts are rare and typically reserved for players who are seen as once-in-a-generation talents.

The player market and the scarcity of available players needed to plug holes in struggling teams is generally the main driver in determining a player's value.

Players are generally more interested in longevity of career and often prioritise the contracts that present more playing years over the yearly earn.

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Speculation rumbles that Taumalolo will be medically retired, a move that could lead to a multimillion-dollar payout from the Cowboys, similar to the $2.5 million that Michael Morgan received in 2021.

Orr remains resolute, however.

"There are no discussions of retirement. No one from the Cowboys has mentioned any retirement talk and definitely no one from my client's side of the fence has raised it, so it's simply not right."

"Up until last year Jason had never had surgery. He had no run of injuries for six or seven years which is quite remarkable given the demands of the position he plays."

Teammate Chad Townsend also spoke highly of Taumalolo, praising his work ethic and influence within the team. "Jase is a legend of the club. He is doing a lot of extras in the gym and at training. Like myself, he is getting older and he understands what he needs to do to get himself ready."

The average career of an NRL player is between two-three seasons. Taumalolo is one of those once-in-a-generation players who most fans would love to see get back to his best and lengthen his time in the game.