NRL Rd 7 - Storm v Warriors
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26: Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten speaks to media in the post match press conference during the round seven NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on June 26, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The North Queensland Cowboys have announced Todd Payten as the club’s next head coach, signing him to a three-year deal from the 2021 NRL season.

Payten told the Cowboys website he and his family were thrilled to be returning to Queensland, with an eye to turn the Cowboys back into a winning team.

“I’m excited for the opportunity which lies ahead for myself and my family, returning to this club, town and region is something which makes us extremely happy,” he said.

“I see a huge amount of upside within the Cowboys organization and it is my job to see that eventuate into results on the field.

“Developing the players within the club to be good footballers and good men along with playing a style of football our members and supporters can be proud of will be my main focus.”

Payten played 259 games across 16 seasons at three different clubs, starting at Canberra from 1996-2002, playing one season at Sydney in 2003 before finishing his career up at Wests Tigers from 2004-11.

The 41-year old transitioned from player to coach immediately following retirement, coaching the Wests Tigers’ NYC team to a grand final victory in 2012 before progressing to an assistant coach with the Tigers in 2014. He then moved to the Cowboys the following year.

Payten departed North Queensland following the 2018 season to take up an assistant coaching role with the New Zealand Warriors where he was named head coach for the remainder of the 2020 season back in June.

CEO Jeff Reibel said the Cowboys had secured a coach that understands the club’s importance to the North Queensland community.

“We have been fortunate to secure the services of one of the best young coaches in the NRL,” he said.

“He also understands here at the Cowboys we are more than just a rugby league club, he appreciates we are a community-focused club which brings the whole of North Queensland together.

“Todd has proved he is ready to be a Head Coach and we’re delighted to give him that opportunity at the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.”