Today I continue my series with the North Queensland Cowboys. They may have no premierships but they have boasted some classy players, and today I select the best in their history.
1. Matthew Bowen
1 cap for Australia, 10 for Queensland, fullback of the year
Bowen was the ultimate excitement machine, he was super quick off the mark which made him dangerous at kick returns. Bowen formed one of the most deadly combinations with Johnathan Thurston.
2. Matt Sing
12 caps for Australia, 24 for Queensland
Matt Sing has been one of the most consistent wingers in the NRL. He was a fantastic finisher, very good in air and won many caps for Australia and Queensland.
3. Paul Bowman
12 caps for Queensland
Bowman was part of the Cowboys’ foundation team and eventually became a captain of the club. He was a very natural footballer who thrived in the State of Origin arena and was also one of the best defensive centres.
4. Kane Linnett
4 caps for Scotland
Linnett has been one of the most underrated players in the NRL, he was a very good defender and great whole runner – a very reliable player.
5. Ty Williams
3 caps for Queensland
Williams was another great clubman who was an all-round winger boasting speed, great finishing ability, and a nice step. He wasn’t the biggest player but was very wise for his position.
6. Michael Morgan
6 caps for Queensland
Morgan finally has solved a problem for the Cowboys that has plagued them ever since their existence. He has great pace, nice stocky build and one of the best dummies in the NRL today.
7. Johnathan Thurston
32 caps for Australia, 33 for Queensland, triple Dally M Medal winner, double Golden Boot winner, RLIF back of the year, RLW player of the year, triple five-eighth of the year, RLIF halfback of the year, Wally Lewis Medal winner, RLPA player of the year
Probably the greatest halfback since Joey Johns, ‘JT’ may be the most unpredictable player ever. His ability to think on the fly and read defences is exceptional. His dummy and run and fearless taking the ball to line makes him an amazing ball-player.
Thurston has a super competitive edge and toughness to take the battering from opposition forwards, who smash him down but he always gets back up. His toughness is a key reason why he is who he is.
8. Matt Scott
17 caps for Australia, 19 for Queensland, RLIF prop of the year, prop of the year
Scoot isn’t exactly the biggest prop but his stocky build, low centre of gravity and great leg speed ensures he hits the line with force. Scott has been the leader of the Cowboys’ pack for years, you can rely on him to make 10 metres on each carry.
9. Aaron Payne
Aaron Payne was a very creative hooker who formed a great combination with Thurston and Bowen as part of the Cowboys’ spine. The Cowboys have really struggled replacing him until the emergence of Jake Granville.
10. Paul Rauhihi
16 caps for New Zealand, prop of the year
He provided the Cowboys with their first cult hero, his bright yellow fluorescent boots and hard runs making him one of the most damaging props in the game. He was instrumental to their charge to the 2005 grand final.
11. Gavin Cooper
It’s quite astonishing that a player so good for so long has never made a rep team. Cooper is a very smart and tough player who scores many tries for a second-rower due to his combination with Thurston.
12. Luke O’Donnell
11 caps for Australia, 5 for NSW
A very aggressive, in-your-face type of player, O’Donnell never took a backward step for anyone. He could easily make breaks in the line or on opposition bones due to his raw power.
13. Glenn Morrison
He may never have played any representative games but Morrison was a vital Cowboys forward. Morrison was a rare shining light when the Cowboys where struggling.
Nathan Fien, Travis Norton, James Tamou, Jason Taumalolo
This is a pretty good team with some stars and some solid first graders. If this team were to take the field it would have a pack with lots of firepower. With Scott, Rauhihi and O’Donnell starting and Tamou and Taumalolo coming off the bench the Cowboys should be able to find metres quite easily.
Having Thurston will always keep you competitive and he and Bowen would form a formidable duo. The outside backs are pretty good but nothing amazing and when you’re taking into account other all-time teams this may go against them. This team is still young so it may explain why that is the case. Will JT be enough to make the Cowboys all-time side a great one?