After a lengthy, drawn out and seemingly never-ending process, the North Queensland Cowboys have finally appointed someone to take the fallen 2015 champions back to the top.
With names like John Cartwright, Shaun Wane and current interim coach Josh Hannay being hotly discussed, Todd Payten has landed his first full-time coaching gig in the NRL signing a three-year-deal, reported to be worth around $1.5 million.
Coincidentally, Payten is one of the men responsible for bringing the Cowboys their maiden premiership. Payten served as the Cowboys u20s coach in 2015 and as the assistant under Paul Green before departing for the Warriors prior to the 2019 season to assist Stephen Kearney with the side’s attack.
Payten has always had a good affinity with the club and the time is finally right.
In fact, the Cowboys couldn’t need a guy like Todd Payten more. It isn’t just the fact he looks like that guy you see in movies thanks to bald head and the really cool goatee.
You know? The one with the cool, tight fitted clothing and drives a sick motorcycle. That’s Todd Payten.
Paul Green came under fire for his man management, or lack thereof.
The form of the Warriors, I believe, is a testament to Payten’s ability to man manage.
Imagine coming over to Australia as an assistant coach. You’re without your family, just like everyone around you.
Not long after, the coach of the team or your boss, is sensationally sacked. With the sacrifice the Warriors made, this puts a lot of attention on your team from the media.
The responsibility to lead this team in the most unique circumstances has fallen on you. You’ve dealt with many injuries to key members of the squad, trying to get loan players in for short periods.
Many times, Payten will have had to be the man for a hug, words of support and a shoulder to cry on for many young men in a challenging situation.
A good coach can be a mate, but also able to tell a player his performances are not up to scratch.
Payten has also appeared to have brought in resilience, mental toughness and steel – all things the Warriors are accused of lacking.
But if you look at this Warriors side in recent weeks, and they are almost unrecognisable. Line speed and defence is night and day from what it was.
A steely performance against the back-to-back reigning premiers, and some impressive wins including the 36-6 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
Todd spent time as the u20s coach of the Wests Tigers in 2012 and 2013 coaching them to fourth and fifth respectively before spending 2014 as the assistant coach. A mark left in Leichhardt that apparently had Tigers advocating for him to get the senior role. Payten relocated his family to Townsville to become the u20s coach in 2015, coaching them to second on the ladder.
And the Cowboys have young talent in abundance with names like Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Connelly Lemuelu, Jake Clifford, Daejarn Asi, Tom Gilbert, Reece Robson, Emry Pere and the untried Tukimihia Simpkins.
A new stadium, centre of excellence, a young roster and an up and coming coach? History awaits. But it’s time to smile for the proud Cowboys who may have forgotten how to in recent years with many false dawns.
Let’s hope this is a new horizon.