Todd Payten faces selection ‘headache’ after big Cowboys win

NRL

Todd Payten was full of praise for his team after they blew away Parramatta Eels 35-4, but has admitted he now faces a potential selection headache.

Despite having large chunks of possession and a wealth of play-the-balls in great attacking positions, the Eels could only find their way over the line once. Their attack stifled by a strong Cowboys defence.

“We wanted to control the ball and be good with our discipline,” Payten said. “But we didn’t do that, so we had to work really hard defensively.

“We showed desire and a willingness to keep working hard for our team-mate, which was great to watch.”

Scott Drinkwater was at the heart of everything, as he continued his impressive form. The fullback produced a brilliant cut-out pass for Kyle Feldt to score the first of his hat-trick of tries.

It was a pivotal moment, after the Cowboys had been under pressure for much of the opening stages.

“I know how talented Drinky is and what he provides for our team,” Payten said.

“He’s come in and played really well.

“He’s made a real difference to what we’re doing with the ball. And after the game against the Warriors, he’s made an adjustment as a fullback for getting our line organised.”

Payten acknowledged off the back of another starring performance from Drinkwater he now faced a difficult decision about what to do with Hamiso Tabuai- Fidow.

The Queensland representative started the year as the club’s number one, but was struck down by injury a month ago. Since then, Drinkwater has grasped his opportunity.

“It’s a great headache to have,” Payten said.

“I’m sure he [Fidow] would prefer to start, no doubt. But he will put the team first.

“It’s all about giving yourself to the team. And that’s what our players have done so far.”

After absorbing plenty of pressure on their own line throughout the match, the Cowboys showed their attacking flair in the closing stages.

Tom Dearden, Drinkwater and Fidow all crossed late on to cap a memorable victory.

“In the corresponding game against Parramatta last year, we had a right edge where one guy was on debut, a guy was playing out of position in the centres and Dearden was in his fourth game for the club,” Payten said, as he reflected on how far his team had come in the space of a year.

“Whereas at the moment, we have [Jamayne] Taunoa-Brown- who is a first-grader- and Jake Granville- who is also a first-grader- not be part of the team.

“And we’ve got the Hammer, who is a Ferrari, sitting on the bench.”

Eels coach, Brad Arthur, commended the effort of the Cowboys and admitted his side were second best on the night.

“They were too good for us,” he said. “They executed their plan really well.

“Every team is coming after us and we’ve got to be prepared to match that intensity.”

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