2021 North Queensland Cowboys Team Review

A mid-year momentum shift changed everything for the Cowboys, who finished in 15th place.

2021 Club Record

Wins: 7
Losses: 17
Competition Points: 16

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2021 Player Achievements

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Most Tries: Kyle Feldt (12)
Most Points: Valentine Holmes (126)

Season Summary

It’s been said a few times that the North Queensland Cowboys’ 2021 season was a tale of two halves, which couldn’t be more true. The first half of the season, while they still struggled, looked promising. After the halfway mark, however, the Cowboys suffered a 10-game losing streak, finishing the year in 15th place with just seven wins. 

Their first win didn’t come until round five against the Tigers. This began a short-lived winning streak: three straight victories that made them look like they had potential to keep going this season. Rounds 1-12 produced six of their wins for the year, and they looked like they could have made the top eight; however, after their bye round, momentum shifted completely. 

The loss of Michael Morgan had a detrimental impact on the Cowboys’ season. The North Queensland captain announced in early April that he would be immediately retiring due to chronic shoulder issues that have kept him on the sidelines for the better part of two years. 

Morgan said he worked hard during the 2021 preseason to get his shoulder to a place where he was comfortable, and he did just that, however it didn’t hold up. In the last game of his career, which was against the Dragons, he “felt a massive crunch” in his shoulder, with scans later confirming the worst. It was at that point he thought it best he retire. While there is no telling how the Cowboys would have gone if Morgan had been able to play all year, his absence was definitely hard on the team. 

Another injury the Cowboys struggled to adjust to was that of Valentine Holmes, who suffered a shoulder injury in game three of the State of Origin series. Luckily for North Queensland, his injury didn’t require surgery, so he was only sidelined for a month. 

While not their best season, they certainly showed they could score points, particularly in rounds 1-12. In all but one of their wins they scored more than 20 points. They are a solid attacking team, but unfortunately their defence was lacking, which had a detrimental impact on the latter half of their season. 

All in all, despite having a solid team, the Cowboys couldn’t seem to find their feet in 2021. Injuries and a huge mid-year momentum shift certainly helped thumb-tack them from playing their best football, ruining any chances of making it to the top eight. Next year it will be important for them to gain as much momentum as they can as early as they can to ensure a better start to the year. 

NothingButLeague Player of the Season – Scott Drinkwater

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Matches: 24
Tries: 5
Try Assists: 22
Kick Metres: 5,239

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