If North Queensland prop James Tamou had got what he wished for midway through the year, he’d be somewhere far, far away from the NRL’s decider on Sunday.
The 26-year-old was a signature away from a mid-season transfer to Canberra after informing coach Paul Green of a desire to be closer to his partner’s family in the nation’s capital.
“Things were very unhealthy at home with my partner because she was missing her family and going away, and I ended up by myself there,” Tamou recalled to AAP.
“It was scary because I thought to myself, `This isn’t right. I’ve got to make it right.’
“So I went to them and told them the situation.”
The Cowboys had entertained the idea of a release back in May, but in the end they didn’t have to make a decision.
At the time the side were in the middle of an 11-game winning streak, opening Tamou’s eyes to the possibility of a historic premiership for the city.
So instead, partner Brittney McGlone and their two children stayed up in Townsville.
“I never said I wanted to go, I was just in a tough situation,” he said.
“Now my mother-in-law comes up more often, so we’ve sorted that out a bit. She’s helped out there. We’re pretty happy.”
The near miss has been at the forefront of Tamou’s mind as he prepares for what he describes as the biggest game of his career thus far.
“I’d be kicking myself if it happened,” he said.
“We were on a bit of a roll at the time so I knew this was my best chance to go to a grand final and have a good chance of winning it.
“So I’m very glad I stayed.”
While he was a part of Australia’s World Cup triumph, as well as the NSW team that broke Queensland’s eight-year run in Origin, Tamou said he’s still coming to grips with the opportunity to help land the Cowboys’ first premiership.
“As a player you ask other players what it’s like to play in a GF, what it feels like winning one,” he said.
“Ben Hannant said it’s unreal, that I’d be playing through adrenalin for the first 10-15 minutes.
“When I’m lying down, just the thought of playing in one hypes me up and gets my blood going.
“I just can’t wait.”
As for his long-term future, Tamou has one more season left in his current deal, but admitted a premiership would tempt him to stay for the rest of his career.
“If we won, I’d definitely have to stay,” he said.
“For what the club’s done, what the community’s done for me, I’d just owe them so much.
“To have my name down in the team that took the first trophy home, it’d be something I’d love to show my kids.”