Tackle machine still rusty - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tackle machine still rusty

Laine Clark 29/04/2011 07:13:56 PM Comments (0)

Averaging 49 tackles a game is nothing to be sneezed at - but North Queensland Cowboys backrower Dallas Johnson reckons he is just getting started.

In an incredible claim, the NRL's runaway tackle leader believes his 2011 NRL form has not "been that great" and he has plenty of work to do before Queensland finalises their Origin I team for May 25's opener in Brisbane.

After a short-lived stint in Europe, Johnson appears to have picked up where he left off in Melbourne with a barnstorming season start for the Cowboys.

He has rattled off 346 tackles in seven games to date - a staggering 20 more than nearest rival, Parramatta workhorse Nathan Hindmarsh.

His haul includes a remarkable 64 in one match alone against Parramatta.

And all while nursing knee bone bruising.

It's been enough to earn Johnson inclusion in a preliminary 25-strong Queensland squad for the series opener at Suncorp Stadium.

But the message from Johnson on Friday was clear - just wait until I hit top form.

"Obviously it's a huge honour to be named in that squad again," the 28-year-old said.

"At the moment, I'm just in the squad and it's a matter of playing well for the Cowboys now and trying to get picked in the (final) team.

"I've got a fair bit of work to do before the side for the game gets picked.

"I don't think my form's been that great.

"I think I've got plenty to work on and hopefully I can get out there and do it on the field."

Johnson has been a key to the Cowboys' 2011 resurgence.

After three years in the NRL wilderness, North Queensland are fourth and on a three-game winning run going into Saturday night's Townsville showdown with Manly.

"The team's been working well together," Johnson said.

"That's probably the main standout.

Johnson has racked up 12 Origin appearances since his 2006 debut, featuring in four of Queensland's five-straight series wins before heading overseas.

Despite being back with a vengeance, Johnson was wary of his competition - incumbent lock Ash Harrison of the Titans as well as the likes of Brisbane's Corey Parker and the Warriors' Jacob Lillyman.

But Titans coach John Cartwright believed picking Harrison was a no brainer.

"Considering what he has done over the years, he should be there," he said.

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