MACKAY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Michael Morgan of the Cowboys passes the ball during the NRL Trial match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys on March 02, 2019 in Mackay, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

With under a week to go until the NRL kicks off, we lay down an extended preview for each club. Below is a look at the star studded Cowboys.

Ins: Reece Robson (Dragons), Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), Connelly Lemuelu (Bulldogs), Reuben Cotter, Thomas Gilbert, Daniel Russell (upgraded from development contracts), Valentine Holmes (NFL)

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Outs: Matt Scott, Scott Bolton (retired), Jordan Kahu (Broncos), Enari Tuala (Knights), Te Maire Martin (retired), Javid Bowen, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Kurt Baptiste, Carlin Anderson, (all unsigned)

2019 Season:

There was a fair bit of optimism up north in 2019 despite the start of the post Thurston era.

Michael Morgan had made the side his during the twilight of JTs career, Ben Barba was on board, Matt Scott was back and Coen Hess was the games most exciting forward prospect.

What would eventuate, I’m not sure many saw coming as the Cowboys would finish above only the Saints and Titans.

Morgan struggled, Barba was sacked in disgrace before making a single appearance, Scott toiled but was at the end of his run, and Hess had a nightmare season.

Predicted Best Player: Jason Taumalolo

Shocking right? The best lock forward, well forward period, of the modern era being the Cowboys best!?

It’s super predictable because it’s absolutely going to happen, as long as he’s fit.

There are very few players capable of changing a game with every touch. Taumalolo is.

Every single hit up is produced with 100% effort. He breaks the line with amazing regularity and bends it with every run.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 28: Jason Taumalolo of the Cowboys looks dejected after a Dragons try during the round 15 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium on June 28, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Predicted Top Scorer: Valentine Holmes

It’s going to take time for Holmes to readjust. We saw how hard it was for Hayne, who was a far more experienced player than Val, albeit Val is much younger.

He’ll start slow, especially having failed to feature in the nines or play huge minutes in pre season but this kid is elite.

He was arguably the game’s most elusive fullback when he left, having set a club try scoring record at Cronulla.

Slow start, incredible from there. 17 tries running off Morgan and co.

Recruitment Impact:

The Cowboys realistically needed to make a splash in the market if they hoped to see a quick turn around for 2020.

They did just that …

Holmes is arguably the signing of the season while Esan Marsters is a brilliant pick up.

I love the signing of Reece Robson, who is a dynamo out of dummy half.

Holmes has the ability to change the fortunes instantly for his new club while Marsters strengthens them out wide and Robson improves the bench.

2020 Final Position: 6th

I can’t see anything other than a quick ascent for the Cowboys given the improvements they’ve made.

One monster signing and two clever pick ups will help take the pressure off of Morgan and Granville.

Hess looks to be back in peak shape and has done everything right during the pre season.

Scott Drinkwater is an incredible talent and should slot straight into the six role.

I cannot believe reports that he is set to miss round one.

Greens thinking looks to be put him in QLD Cup to get some game time at 6, given Val will take his full back jersey.

That said, he’s too good a player to leave out. Find a spot for him. I’d start him at 6 but if not, play him in the centres.

The squad here is supremely talented. There are questions to be answered re Val, Granville and Hess but I like what I see.

This probably isn’t a club who threatens for the title but given the extra boost of their incredible new stadium, I see them winning enough games to secure a fairly comfortable finals finish.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Major Liability : Paul Green

    Seriously, these guys should improve on last year simply from the talent they have in their squad but they need a good coach and I don’t think that Paul Green has the goods to propel them as high as 6th.

    8th to 10th for mine.

  2. They made the Grand Final from 8th place in 2017. With a lot of injuries in the squad.
    This side looks a lot better than the actual side that made that Grand Final.

  3. Holmes looks like he may be a bit heavier than when he played for the Sharks. Not as over weight as Latrell Mitchell though. Maybe all the American Football training has made him more muscular.

    Cowboys in my opinion will pressure the top eight teams and should finish somewhere between 6th-10th.

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