One down, 24 to go.

The first eight games of the 2021 NRL season didn’t just provide us with our initial set of winners and losers, it raised another series of questions.

With each of the league’s 16 teams set to do battle again this weekend, we attempted to answer the major issues facing their playing lists and coaches alike.


North Queensland Cowboys

How does Jason Taumalolo respond?

It was a bold move and judging by the size of its target, not one we would have made if we were in Todd Payten’s shoes.

Some pundits have claimed that the 42-year-old’s public dressing down of star forward Jason Taumalolo was the right move and will pay dividends.

However, others feel as though it could backfire and eventually leave him jobless.

With a contract to play for the Cowboys until the end of 2027, suggesting Taumalolo has job security in Townsville is one hell of an understatement.

With a comparative deal until the cessation of 2023, Payten’s future is precarious in comparison.

Irrespective of whether it was the right or wrong move, Payten, a notorious straight shooter, backed himself to make it – something I commend him for. Asking for effort from your stars is not something that should be admonished, but rather applauded.

There has been suggestion that it was and odd move for a new coach to make after his opening game at a new club, but what many are forgetting is that Payten and Taumalolo have already worked together in the past. In 2014, the current head coach of the Cowboys was the club’s NYC coach and in 2015, was Paul Green’s assistant in North Queensland’s comp winning year.

Payten’s dressing down of the Tongan international was designed to provoke performance, and with the Cows facing the Dragons this week, you can bet your bottom dollar that Taumalolo turns it on in Townsville.