Webcke warns of new JT’s strength
Broncos stalwart Shane Webcke says Jason Taumalolo is the freakish result of rugby league's evolution in the forwards and presents a nightmare for his old club in Friday night's NRL showdown.
The 115kg Taumalolo ran for a career-best 301m in North Queensland's Round 1 win, even bettering the output from his monster 271m game for the Cowboys in their Round 22 derby win over the Broncos last year.
"Holy smokes mate, he is without one of the most freakish players I've ever seen,'' the tough 254-game prop Webcke said.
"Generally speaking the better forwards are bigger and heavier and more mobile than footballers have ever been. Maybe it's natural evolution.
"Taumalolo is the standout obviously but there are some big mobile men playing this game.
"He's so powerful, so big, so fast for his size, and so good on his feet.''
Webcke, who was listed as 112kg towards the end of his career, powered the ball ahead for the Broncos from 1995-2006 and also played 21 Origin matches and 26 Tests.
"I said to Wayne Bennett a couple of times in the past few years, 'I don't know how I'd go today because of that evolution?','' he said.
"Wayne said, 'They've all evolved together'. The tide rises and all the boats up with them. If we'd have been playing in this era, Wayne reckoned we'd have generally been better athletes. I don't know how.''
While trying to subdue the influence of Taumalolo, Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough said one big first step would be to tidy up the mistakes they made in their 22-12 loss to Melbourne.
Taumalolo posted 144m from 16 runs in Brisbane's round 2 win over North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium, one of two derby games in the season both decided by four points to continue the rivalry's history of close, thrilling matches.
"If we have hang onto the ball and score a few tries that might help, but he is a quality player,'' McCullough said.
"We hung pretty tough against the Storm. It was just some execution errors. We have to be smarter with the footy.''
Webcke says Broncos bosses should not regret the hard line decision to ban Payne Haas for four weeks even though it has contributed to a below-strength pack to be put on the field against Taumalolo and company.
Haas received an internal ban last month for not complying with the NRL Integrity Unit and Brisbane's middle forwards will play the next two matches without both him and the suspended Matt Lodge.
"It's such a minefield, but I love that saying, `You can't go wrong when you do the right thing','' Webcke said.
"Without know exactly what happened, I've always admired how the Broncos have tried to be an ethically sound club without being hysterical about it all either. Sometimes you have to make a tough call that hurts you but in the long term that's what good culture is, regardless of the cost.''
McCullough says Haas would learn from his suspension.
"Is it worth four weeks? I don't know, but it's not up to me to decide,'' he said.
"I don't know the full ins and outs of that. The decision that has been made and Payne needs to get his head right for when he comes back.''