After a disappointing few years, the Cowboys have moved to shore up their backline during the offseason with two impressive signings.
Valentine Holmes, as many predicted when he left for the NFL, is back in the NRL after only a year.
He was signed up by the New York Jets but failed to make their NFL squad and gave up on his dream to sign with the Cowboys as their new fullback.
Scott Drinkwater, brother of Catalans star Josh, who had been filling in at fullback admirably, is likely to now move into the halves to replace Te Maire Martin who has sadly been forced to retire at just 24 after a horrible health scare.
Meanwhile, Esan Marsters has also signed for the Cowboys from Wests Tigers to play in the centres alongside Justin O’Neill. Marsters’ form in the last few years forced him into the New Zealand national side, and he’ll be looking to stay there with his form in Townsville.
But the main anticipation for North Queensland is their new stadium. The club left 1300SMILES Stadium at the end of last year to move into the North Queensland Stadium. The first game at the commercially known Queensland Country Bank Stadium will be a derby against Brisbane Broncos and you’d hope it would be filled to its 25,000 capacity for the visit of their big city rivals.
That game will be preceded by an Elton John concert in late February. But that surely won’t outshine the Cowboys’ own Rocket Man in the return of Holmes to Australian Rugby League.
Coach: Paul Green
Paul Green (above) will go down in history for the Cowboys as the coach that led them to their first Grand Final victory in 2015.
He took charge of the team in the previous year and that victory against Brisbane in Sydney remains his best achievement.
Since then, the Cowboys have slowly drifted out of contention with the retirement of Johnathan Thurston.
Green will be hoping the club’s new stadium can inspire them to step back into the playoff picture.
Star Player: Jason Taumalolo
There are plenty of star names in the Cowboys’ squad, especially with the addition of NFL hopeful Valentine Holmes at fullback but none more so than Jason Taumalolo (pictured, top).
Last year was a disappointment for the loose forward, who is only a few years into a ten-year contract with the Cowboys that ends in 2027. A fellow NFL admirer, Taumalolo will be hoping he can drum up 200 metres and more in each and every game in 2020 to get back to his earth-shattering best.
Rugby League World Predicts: 9th
First published in Rugby League World, Issue 467 (March 2020)