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When James Tamou first ran onto Parramatta Stadium in 2009, he could not possibly have imagined the journey that he was about to embark upon.

In his fourteen-year career, Tamou has developed into one of the game’s leading front rowers, winning a premiership for his club and representing his state, country and heritage.

Tamou on debut against the Eels in 2009
Tamou on debut against the Eels in 2009

Now, ahead of today's 300th NRL appearance, Tamou is proud to reflect on his career and thanks those who have helped him along the way.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. You don’t really think about these things too much when you’re focused on footy and your head is stuck in the NRL bubble,” said Tamou earlier in the week.

“It’ll be a pretty special occasion and it’s a great honour to join a really good group who have passed that milestone."

Born in Palmerston North, Tamou moved to Australia at the age of thirteen and honed his craft at the famous rugby league breeding ground of Matraville Sports High School, playing alongside the likes of Adam Reynolds and Boyd Cordner.

Tamou against the Cowboys in Magic Round this season
Tamou against the Cowboys in Magic Round this season

He started his rugby league career as a Roosters junior and quickly earned the attention of scouts from north of the border as he signed his first NRL contract with the Cowboys in 2009.

Tamou would go on to make 170 appearances for North Queensland, forming part of the league’s most feared forward pack alongside fellow enforcers Matt Scott and Jason Taumalolo.

The trio would guide the Cowboys to their maiden premiership, with Tamou earning the opportunity to represent New South Wales and Australia in the process.

Tamou carting it up against the Kiwis in 2015
Tamou carting it up against the Kiwis in 2015

Given the success that he experienced in North Queensland, it’s poetic that Tamou will join the 300 club in front of the Cowboys’ faithful.

“It’s crazy how it’s worked out because I missed a couple of games a few weeks ago, which meant that my 300th landed on Townsville.”

It’s quite fitting that it will come full circle from where it all started."

James Tamou

Tamou made the move back to Sydney in 2017 to captain the Penrith Panthers, guiding them to the 2020 Grand Final after missing the Finals in the previous season.

He then joined Wests Tigers in 2021 and has assumed a leadership role for the talented crop of juniors rising through the club’s ranks.

Tamou on the charge against the Eels in 2022
Tamou on the charge against the Eels in 2022

Teammate Starford To’a sung his captain’s praises ahead of his milestone match, stating that his experience has been invaluable to the young playing group.

“He’s just so professional. He doesn’t care if you’re young or old, he’s always willing to teach you something new and help you out with any advice”

He's a legend of our game and we want him to have a special afternoon."

Starford To'a
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