I need to step up: Taumalolo
COWBOYS ace Jason Taumalolo concedes he "hasn't been himself" this year, but refused to blame a taxing World Cup campaign with Tonga for a slower than normal start to the season.
Although he has been solid, Taumalolo effectively made a rod for his own back last year by becoming the first forward to run for over 5000 metres in a season, leading the Cowboys to the grand final.
Expectations have never been higher on the 24-year-old as a result and the Cowboys' all-star pack, headed by Taumalolo and Matt Scott, has been underwhelming in 2018.
Taumalolo took a major step toward regaining his mojo with a fine game against the Bulldogs last week, running for 198 metres and busting nine tackles.
Despite losing their last five games to slump to a 1-5 record, Cowboys coach Paul Green stuck solid with the same 17 for Saturday's must-win home clash with the Gold Coast.
Some players are likely to face the axe if they don't end the drought and Taumalolo said it's up to the squad to repay Green's show of faith.
"He's still got a lot of belief in the boys (but) you can only take so much at the same time," Taumalolo said.
"It's about going out there now and putting on a performance and hopefully getting that win.
"The playing group is pretty tight even though we're going through a rough period, he's still giving the boys a chance to redeem themselves, and we have to take that this weekend."
Like a big portion of the side, Taumalolo said he is suffering from a lack of confidence and insisted he's not suffering any side effects from the World Cup.
"I can't really use that as an excuse. It's just (about) myself and being prepared to play footy every weekend," Taumalolo said.
"Personally I don't reckon the last few weeks I've been myself, and that's probably the reason why I've been playing the way I've been playing.
"Other teams would have been watching film and trying to do a job on me.
"For myself it's just confidence, I've been lacking that the last few weeks, and last week was a slight step in the right direction.
"The last few weeks, I've been shying away from the big moments I really like to be a part of.
"The likes of myself and Matt Scott, there's a lot of expectation on us, but we haven't been playing how we want to play of late. I believe the boys can find that soon."
The Cowboys have struggled to find points, with only winless Parramatta and the 13th-placed Sharks scoring less this year.
But Taumalolo said it's their fragility in defence which must be fixed immediately if they are to turn their season around.
"Our defence has been lacking, we've been leaking points and defending our line is something the boys pride themselves on," Taumalolo said.
"We can talk about our attack and boys not playing good footy but it's hard in defence when you keep coughing up the ball."