High hopes surrounded the North Queensland Cowboys as they entered the post-JT era. But off-field drama, injury, and predictability plagued the Cowboys, finishing 14th.
2019 Club Record
Competition Points: 20
2019 Player Achievements
Cowboys Player of the Year: Jason Taumalolo
Most Tries: Kyle Feldt – 11 tries
Most Points: Jordan Kahu – 86 points
Before the season started, the Cowboys were at $13 to win the premiership and punters had them a certainty to make the top eight. They were charging into the post-JT era with a number of key signings ready to make their mark on the NRL. But the season started to derail before the first whistle was even blown. Star signing Ben Barba was released by the club due to an off-field incident. It didn’t get any better from there. Te Maire Martin suffered a bleed on the brain, Justin O’Neill ruptured his spleen and Matt Scott had a stroke. Luckily, the three players are back to reasonable health. Kurt Baptiste, Mitch Dunn, and Ben Hampton were all hit with season ending injuries.
As a result, the backline was constantly chopped and changed, not allowing combinations or any sort of fluidity to form. The Cowboys made a habit of falling out of games in key moments and at times looked predictable. The Cowboys finished as the third worst attacking team in the NRL, with pressure mounting on coach Paul Green. An tactical offensive shake up is needed as well as an injection of pace into the backline.
But fear not Cowboys fans, there are reasons to believe. The Cowboys showed glimpses of great football and a knack for hanging in there with the big teams: the highlight coming when Jake Clifford kicked the winning field goal against the Roosters in the upset of the year.
We saw the Cowboys farewell their spiritual home at 1300SMILES, but their brand new stadium in the heart of Townsville is looking fantastic. The new ground should give the Cowboys some momentum which Green needs to capitalise on.
The mix of youth and experience is another positive for the future. Mid-year signing Scott Drinkwater has been a revelation at the back, with Jake Clifford, Shane Wright and Mitch Dunn also continuing to improve. Whereas the older heads Josh McGuire, Michael Morgan, and Jason Taumalolo will nurture the young talent hoping to turn the Cowboys into a contender in 2020.
Sadly they farewelled two club legends in Scott and Scott Bolton. The pair will both retire as one-club men. Thumper had a fantastic career. He is a part of the NRL ‘Team of the Decade’, finishing with 268 appearances for the Cowboys, 23 for Queensland and 22 for Australia. Meanwhile, Bolton retires as a part of the 2015 premiership side with 246 games.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
The lock of the decade has done it again in 2019. The 26-year-old has won his fourth consecutive Paul Bowman Medal, equal only with JT. Taumalolo continued to be the hardest forward to stop in the NRL, leading the forwards with a staggering 196 metres a game. With a Dally M Medal already to his name, there is no doubt the Tongan international will poll well again in the 2019 Dally M count. That 10-million-over-10-year deal is looking to be a bargain for North Queensland.
2020 GAINS AND LOSSES
Coach Green is still on the hunt for outside backs with Valentine Holmes and Esan Masters in his sights. But, as it stands this is how the Cowboys will run into 2020.
Scott Drinkwater (Melbourne Storm, 2021), Reece Robson (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2023).
Carlin Anderson (released), Kurt Baptiste (released), Scott Bolton (retired), Javid Bowen (released), Jordan Kahu (released), Nene Macdonald (released), Gideon Mosby-Gela (released), Matthew Scott (retired), Enari Tuala (released)