Tamou is first of the Cowboys' big names to re-sign
James Tamou has graduated to representative honours since joining the Cowboys in 2009. Photo: Getty Images
Kangaroo James Tamou has spurned offers from rival NRL clubs to re-sign with North Queensland until the end of 2016.
The imposing front-rower, who established himself as one of the elite forwards in the NRL in 2012 by making his Test and NSW Origin debuts, was being chased hard by several clubs including wooden-spooners Parramatta.
But the 24-year-old chose to stick with the club he debuted for in 2009, admitting he felt he owed it to the Cowboys for the faith they showed in him when he signed from the Sydney Roosters in 2009.
"When I first came to the Cowboys, I hadn't played in the NRL and now I'm playing Origin and Test footy which shows how much being here has helped my game," he said in a statement.
"I owe this club a lot and I love the area and the people here so my goal was to stay with North Queensland.
"I think we have a great squad and can challenge for titles next year and beyond that."
Cowboys general manager Peter Parr hailed the re-signing.
"After the way he played this year, I think everyone now knows what a talented footballer James is," Parr said in a statement.
"His 2012 season was one of the best by a front-rower in this club's history.
"Not only did he play representative football, he excelled at that level and he was among our best players week-in, week-out with his teammates recognising him with the players' player of the year award.
"At 24, his best years as a forward in the NRL are still ahead of him."
Tamou's news comes hot on the heels of the club's re-signing of young winger Antonio Winterstein, also until the end of 2016.
But the Cowboys still have some of their biggest stars off contract in the coming 12 months, including co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, star fullback Matt Bowen and representative centre Brent Tate.