Before the start of the season, the North Queensland Cowboys were one of the premiership heavyweights due to an excellent finals run in 2017 and the return of some star personnel.
However, after just one win from five games, the men from Townsville have seriously disappointed.
After their round one victory over the Sharks, the Cowboys have lost four straight. The Broncos, Storm, Panthers and the Warriors have all defeated Paul Green’s team.
The Storm managed to beat the Cowboys by 16 points while the Panthers won by 19.
While this would no doubt be hugely disappointing for the Cowboys, there is nothing to say that they cannot turn their season around as soon as next week.
Many critics have overlooked the many factors that have contributed to the Cowboys losses so far.
Calls that captain and star playmaker Johnathan Thurston has played one season too long have come far too early in the season.
The Cowboys forwards have failed to perform up front like they did at the back end of 2017, which was a huge factor in them making the grand final.
With Jason Taumalolo, in particular, being nullified, the go-forward and intimidation in the middle of the field have been severely limited.
The most significant of these problems has been their inability to field their first choice spine. Round six will be their first opportunity to Thurston, Jake Granville, Michael Morgan and Lachlan Coote to combine.
In fact, round six will be Coote’s first game for the Cowboys in 2018 after missing the first five matches.
Coote is a very important member of the side, as his kicking and ball-playing skills take pressure off both Thurston and Morgan.
Being able to play the spine that won him the 2015 premiership will be a huge bonus for Paul Green as he heads into a vital clash with the Bulldogs.
The Cowboys round six game against the Bulldogs will be their third home game of the season, and fortunately, their following two matches are also scheduled to take place in Townsville.
A number of consecutive matches at home will provide the Cowboys with a great chance to string together a number of wins.
With these factors all coming together, we could see the Cowboys shoot up the ladder than expected and prove they are a serious finals contender.