A frustrated James Tamou conceded in the wake of Penrith’s 18-12 loss to Parramatta, that he has little chance of retaining his NSW Origin spot, unless the major off-season recruit not only improves his game, but in doing so helps lift his team out of a losing streak that threatens to derail their premiership hopes.
Having been overlooked for Australia’s successful Four Nations campaign late last year, the 28-year old prop's form has been inconsistent to say the least since joining the club this season.
Statistics from the Fox Sports Lab, shows that the ex-Cowboy is significantly down on his performances compared to this time last year, particularly in relation to runs (88 v 118), metres gained (103 metres per game v 144), penalties (8 v 1) and errors (6 v 4) despite his average game time increasing from 46 to 52 minutes per game.
In the latest loss to Parramatta, early lack of possession meant Tamou struggled to get involved in the game, making just 45 metres from six runs, but made 27 tackles in just 34 minutes played, before succumbing to a knee injury that could rule him out of this Thursday’s must-win game versus Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Tamou didn’t shy away when asked to assess his game, admitting that his current form is not up to scratch and concludes that unless he increases his involvement and helps his team out of their form slump, the incumbent NSW Blues prop is set to be overlooked for this year’s Origin series.
“My form needs to improve. I need to be better so the players around me can be better,” Tamou told Nepean News.
“I need to find a way to get myself more into the game.
“Getting those early carries, making tackles and pushing myself.
“(Currently) I’m not there for rep footy form wise and I put that on myself.
“Rep footy is not even on the mind at this time.
“I want to look after this team first. We’re in a hole at the moment.”
While the pre-season premiership favorites currently sit in 14th position with just two wins from eight games, Tamou says he has no regrets leaving North Queensland, adding that the playing roster are one happy unit off the field despite being obviously displeased with the results to date on it.
“With everything that’s happened in the opening rounds, I still have had no regrets (coming to Penrith),” Tamou declared.
“It’s a fun environment and I love it. I’m as happy as Larry.
“I love the players, the coaching staff, I really enjoy it.
“In fact everyone’s really energetic coming into training which is good.
“But coming off the losses it is pretty tough at the moment on the field.
“You don’t want to let your team mates down especially after a good week at training.
“But obviously we are in a rut (at the moment and) we just need to dig ourselves out.”
With a third of the season gone, Penrith who were virtually everyone’s tip as a top four team, now face the daunting task of having to win at least ten of their last sixteen games just to make the top eight.
But Tamou echoed Panthers coach Anthony Griffin’s view that there were aspects to their play in the second half that can be built on, provided the team simplified their game and looked to grind out results instead of being impatient and trying to score off every set.
Photos courtesy of 77 Media.
"We need to sort a few things out but there were a lot of positives to take out of that game,” Tamou said.
“That first five-ten minutes we were defending on our line, doing drop outs which no one game plans for and that obviously takes a lot of sting out of you.
“Then if we go one way and nothing works out, then we’re playing panic stations.
“Once we actually got in the grind (during the second half), we were completing sets and were able to play how we wanted.
“We just need to reach that level earlier in the game that what we did today.
“If we simplify our game and concentrate on the little things, like completing our sets that will enable us to dig our way out.”