Hampton relishing greater role
HE believes he can make the fullback spot his own, but Ben Hampton is adamant he'll have no qualms making way for Lachlan Coote despite a standout display against Penrith.
While the Cowboys have looked slow and sluggish to begin the year Hampton has been a shining light with his speed, energy, and desperation.
He racked up 182 metres from 16 runs, a line break and a try assist in the 33-14 loss to Penrith.
Regular fullback Coote made his return from a hamstring injury for Mackay in the Queensland Cup on Saturday, and it is unclear whether he will be rushed back for Saturday's clash with the unbeaten Warriors in Auckland.
"I'm building a lot of confidence and Greeny (coach Paul Green) and Cootey have been helping me a lot. I feel like I'm going forward with it, and I feel like I could (eventually) make it my position," Hampton said.
"Greeny has been patient with me and I'm not the quickest learner, I'm grateful for that.
"I don't know if I'm keeping him out of the side at the moment, Cootey's a great player and a really good mate of mine.
"He's obviously had some trouble with injury and he's going to build some fitness and confidence in Q Cup.
"He's earned that spot and has played a lot of first grade football but I'm sure he'll come back stronger the next couple of weeks."
Hampton is a runner of the ball and the Cowboys have missed Coote's ball-playing ability in three straight losses.
Having played in the halves or as a utility hooker for most of his career, Hampton is still working out the intricacies of the No.1 role.
"I've only played four games (at fullback) this year and probably only another five in my career before that," Hampton said.
"I'm still building confidence and getting used to where I have to be defensively, and always being on the ball."
The Cowboys are 1-3 and a shadow of the side rated premiership favourites by many experts given the acquisition of Jordan McLean, and Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott's returns from injury.
But Hampton is confident of turning things around.
"It's just frustrating at the moment and I don't know what it is. If we knew what it was we'd fix it straight away but we're just not getting it together at the moment," he said.
"With the blokes back people just assume that we'll be this and that, but you've got people coming back who've been out injured for a year, you've got new people coming into the team.
"I'm not using it as an excuse but it takes time, we'll keep our heads high and stay tight and jump back on the horse."