Final NRL rounds to shape Cowboys for 2022

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has starred at fullback for North Queensland in the absence of Valentine Holmes.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has starred at fullback for North Queensland in the absence of Valentine Holmes.

After starring in Queensland's State of Origin III win and against the Sydney Roosters in round 18, Hamiso-Tabuai-Fidow is just one selection headache North Queensland must entertain late in the season and into 2022.

An injury to fullback Valentine Holmes saw the 'Hammer' back up an exemplary performance for his state with a sizzling performance in the Cowboys' 38-14 loss to the Roosters on Saturday.

Tabuai-Fidow ran for 261 metres off 20 runs, including two line breaks and six tackle busts, with his 80m effort leading to a decisive try to bring the Cowboys back into the contest.

Riding his stellar form, Tabuai-Fidow is trying to convince coach Todd Payten that he should be their fullback to start next season, before Holmes returns from shoulder injury.

Payten admits he'll tinker and consider combinations in the final six rounds, as the Cowboys' finals aspirations slowly fade due to a five-game losing streak.

"Yeah, it's a possibility. We'll get a couple of players back over the next couple of weeks which may impact our selections," he said.

"Obviously, form warrants selection - there are a few different things that can impact that moving forward.

"The kid's (Tabuai-Fidow) got so much ability, and he's very instinctive. He can pick up whatever position he plays in.

"But at the moment we don't have a great deal to choose from either."

On the issue of selections, depth at centre is short for the Cowboys after Javid Bowen suffered an ACL and MCL tear in the loss to the Roosters.

Justin O'Neill remains the only other specialist centre but the 30-year old hasn't played since a round-14 thumping at the hands of Manly.

NRL veteran Peta Hiku will fill the void when he joins the Cowboys in 2022 but until then, Payten backs his youthful outside backs to deliver.

"Murray's (Taulagi) had a fair bit of experience in the centres ... we've had several conversations in the last month throughout his contract negotiations and he wants to become a centre," Payten said.

"He's been doing a great job for us on the wing. I don't think he's going to be out of his depth, in no way shape or form.

"Here's an opportunity for him to press for a full time centre spot whether it's for the rest of the season and moving forward post that."

Australian Associated Press