Happy hooker Aaron Payne is enjoying being a North Queensland NRL player as much as he has for a long time.
But the passionate Cowboy – dining out on a form revival mirroring the team in 2011 – is under no illusion that sentiment may count for nothing when negotiations to extend his tenure at the club begin in coming weeks.
Off contract at the end of this season, Payne is extremely keen to remain a one-team man after debuting here in 2002.
It’s showing on the field, with his statistics this season equal to or exceeding when he was regarded at being at his peak and in the Queensland Origin selection mix between the 2004 and 2008 campaigns.
However if negotiations with the Cowboys don’t work out he won’t be hurt and at 28 years old he most certainly won’t be walking away from the sport, either.
“I have briefly spoken to the Cowboys and they briefly spoke to me, so we haven’t actually started negotiations yet … the ball’s in their court if they want to get back to me about it,” he said.
“Hopefully something comes, if not I may have to go somewhere else, but ideally I’d like to stay here.
“I know I’ve still got a few good years left in me.”