Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys holds the trophy after winning the NRL Nines 2020 tournament at HBF Park in Perth, Saturday, February 15, 2020. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys holds the trophy after winning the NRL Nines 2020 tournament at HBF Park in Perth, Saturday, February 15, 2020. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The Hammer emerges as Cowboys’ next young star

North Queensland took the 'Hammer' to two years of misery last night as 18-year-old Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow emerged as the club's next superstar to inspire the Cowboys to NRL Nines glory.

Stung by two dismal premiership campaigns, the Cowboys are now the NRL's Nines specialists, backing up their inaugural tournament win in 2014 with another title after beating the Dragons 23-14 at HBF Park.

 

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Before 14,739 fans, the Cowboys charged to the $250,000 winner's cheque on the back of young gun Tabuai-Fidow and classy pivot Scott Drinkwater, who was named player-of-the-tournament.

Cowboys teammates have so much trouble pronouncing Tabuai-Fidow's name they simply call him 'Hammer' and the Cairns sensation took the sledgehammer to the Dragons with his blinding turn of speed.

North Queensland dominated the final from start to finish, with Coen Hess crashing over in the second minute before Tabuai-Fidow nailed the coffin shut with a solo try that only the freakish talents can score.

With the Dragons mounting a fightback at 19-14, 'HTF' unleashed his magic. The flashy fullback approached his wing opposite, grubbered ahead and regathered to bury the Dragons with his second sublime kick-and-chase try of the tournament.

 

New recruit Esan Marsters and young superstar Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow were two standouts for the Cows at the NRL Nines. Picture: Getty Images.
New recruit Esan Marsters and young superstar Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow were two standouts for the Cows at the NRL Nines. Picture: Getty Images.

The only downside for the Cowboys was a minor knee injury to Origin hardman Josh McGuire, but the highlights reel belonged to Hammer and Drinkwater, who was the outstanding playmaker of the Nines.

"Anytime you win anything it's a proud moment for the club," Cowboys coach Paul Green said.

"I'm really proud of the boys' efforts over the weekend, our young guys in particular.

"From a club point of view, anytime you're in a tournament and win it, it's a proud moment."

Tabuai-Fidow isn't eligible for NRL selection until July 1 because he is on a development player contract, but it is only a matter of time before the 89kg speed demon makes his NRL debut.

"I'm still pinching myself that I have won a comp with the boys, it's just incredible," he said.

"When Esan (Marsters) threw me the ball, I thought tuck it in and run. Then the defence came close so I put it on the boot, hoped for the best and it was a bit of luck that I score.

"It's an unreal feeling."

Drinkwater said Tabuai-Fidow could eclipse Josh Addo-Carr as the NRL's fastest man.

"There's 'The Fox' in Addo-Carr and we call Hamiso 'The Cheetah," he said.

"He's a freak, an unreal talent. Hopefully in a few years he will kick on and be a very good footballer."

Greg Leleisiuao was one of the best for the Titans, who surpassed everyone’s expectations at the Nines. Picture: AAP.
Greg Leleisiuao was one of the best for the Titans, who surpassed everyone’s expectations at the Nines. Picture: AAP.

 

While the Cowboys walked away victorious, Queensland rivals the Titans also provided a feel-good story.

The embattled wooden spooners were magnificent over the two days and charged into the semi-finals unbeaten before being knocked out 19-8 by the Cowboys.

It is a promising sign for the Titans' regime under new coach Justin Holbrook, who has injected a hungrier edge to the playing group.

"I'm disappointed we didn't get to the final but it's a good confidence builder for the premiership," Holbrook said.

"Regardless of whether you win or not, you want to be happy with how you play and we did that all weekend.

"In the end, we came up short, but we competed hard all weekend."



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