JASON Taumalolo's chances of claiming back-to-back Dally M Medals could be in jeopardy after the Cowboys weapon was charged for a crunching hit on Broncos utility Alex Glenn.
The NRL match review committee slugged Taumalolo with a grade one shoulder charge stemming from Friday's thrilling derby win against the Broncos.
He will miss North Queensland's clash against Manly on Saturday unless he can beat it.
Taumalolo, 23, was jointly crowned the NRL's best player alongside Cooper Cronk last season and he has started 2017 in arguably better form.
However, a player is docked three Dally M points for every match they are suspended, which could cost Taumalolo later in the year if he continues his meteoric rise.
Taumalolo told The Courier Mail he believed the tackle, for which he was penalised but not placed on report, was legal.
"I knew I didn't have my arm tucked or anything. I had it to the side," he said.
"Sometimes when you make contact, people tend to bounce off you.
"I'm not too worried. I thought it was a good tackle, I just didn't finish it as well as I should have.
"It happens in footy."
Taumalolo is only facing a one-match suspension because of his clean judiciary record, however the Cowboys will be desperate for him to not miss any time after Matt Scott's season was ended by a knee injury.
He charged for a stunning 289m in round 1 against Canberra and backed it up with 232m in North Queensland's golden point win against the Broncos.
Cowboys hero Johnathan Thurston praised Taumalolo for producing two crucial plays - charging down Anthony Milford's field goal attempt before carrying the ball to give Thurston the matchwinning opportunity.
While half the Cowboys team swarmed Thurston when his one-pointer sailed over, the rest charged towards Taumalolo knowing exactly what he had done.
"The first thing (coach Paul Green) wanted me to do was work on my effort on effort when I came back (into the NRL)," Taumalolo said.
"We did a lot of conditioning and all he kept saying to me was to keep going and to keep backing it up.
"Even though I'm tired that's what he wanted me to do and to give it two or three years and I think it's paying off.
"He's pushed me both mentally and physically and having a tough pre-season helps that and makes it easier when you get uncomfortable.
"I just knew what the team needed at the time and I just stood up and played footy.
"It's my job to get the boys as far down the field as possible and trying to get them in position to put away games like that with a field goal or pull off a good attacking play."
While he has started the season in cracking touch, Taumalolo said he wasn't motivated by the opportunity to claim back-to-back Dally M Medals.
"Not at all," he said.
"Coming into this season, everyone starts at square one. That's the mentality I have.
"There is a lot of expectation on myself with the Dally M title around. I have put that aside. I start square with everyone now.
"There is a lot of talk about going back-to-back Dally Ms, I definitely don't have that mentality yet.
"My priority is to try and play the best footy I can every week and be more consistent with the Cowboys. That won't change."
Scott was also charged for a shoulder charge on Korbin Sims.
Elsewhere, Charlie Gubb can escape a ban with an early plea for his Dangerous Contact charge on Melbourne's Suliasi Vunivalu.
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