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The forgotten players: North Queensland Cowboys

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Roar Guru
21st December, 2020
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This is the 20th article in the ongoing series where we remember some of the forgotten players from your favourite club. Check out the Hunter Mariners edition.

The North Queensland Cowboys entered the big time in 1995 and a total of 293 players have now represented the club since day one. Amongst them are some absolute club legends, including Johnathan Thurston, Jason Taumalolo, Matthew Bowen, Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott, Gavin Cooper, Scott Bolton and Josh Hannay, all who have played 150+ games for the club.

Some others, including Andrew Meads, Jahrome Hughes, Adam Nable and Masese Pangai somehow managed to play only one first grade game for the club, and there were many others who only briefly represented the club.

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So here’s a team of forgotten Cowboys. How many do you remember?


1. Reggie Cressbrook
Fast, skillful and a constant threat to the defence, Reggie Cressbrook made his first grade debut for the club in 1995 and went on to play 34 games over the next three seasons. He then returned to the local Queensland competitions where he played for another 10 years.

2. Geoff Bell
Geoff Bell joined the Cowboys in 1999 after spending the first five years of his career with the Sharks. He played 33 games for the Cowboys over the next three years, before finishing his top-level career with Penrith. He played one Super League Origin match for Queensland and represented Scotland at Test level three times.

3. Tim Brasher
Tim Brasher was one of the best players of his era, and a legend at Balmain where he played 185 games. A former Australian Schoolboy representative, he joined the Cowboys in 2000 and ended up playing 33 games for the club over the next three seasons, despite missing the entire 2001 season due to an injury that eventually ended his career. He also played 21 Origins for NSW and 14 Tests for Australia.

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(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

4. Will Tupou
A Brisbane junior, Will Tupou got his first grade opportunity with the Cowboys in 2010 and played 21 top level games for the club over the next two years. A destructive ball runner, he then switched to rugby in 2012 and has been there ever since, and has played ten Tests for Japan in rugby.

5. Trent Leis
Better known for his success in the Queensland Cup, Trent Leis joined the Cowboys from Redcliffe in 2001 and played 17 first grade games for the club. He then re-joined Redcliffe the following season. He is the son of the Redcliffe legend Peter Leis.

6. Jonathan Davies
One of the greatest players ever to lace on a boot, Davies was a dual international, playing 37 rugby Tests for Wales, and 19 league Tests for Wales and Great Britain. An elusive ball runner and prolific goal kicker, he joined the Cowboys midway through the 1995 season, and played nine games for the club before returning to rugby union.


7. Brett Firman
An Australian Schoolboy representative, Brett Firman made his first grade debut for St George in 2003, and played 22 games for the club over the next two seasons before losing his first grade spot to Matthew Head. He then moved to Bondi to join the Roosters in 2005, before being released mid-season to join the Cowboys, where he played 18 first grade games over the next two years.

8.Brett Hetherington
Brett Hetherington played a tough game, not unlike his son Jack. After seven successful seasons and a premiership with the Raiders, he moved to the Cowboys in 1999 and played 23 first grade games for the club over the next three seasons.

9.Jason Erba
Jason Erba’s first grade career was a stop-start affair. He made his debut with the Broncos in 1992, but was only selected in one top grade game that year. His next chance in the top grade came with the Cowboys in 1995, where he played five first grade games. His next appearance in the top grade was in the UK in 1997.

10. Steve Edmed
Steve Edmed was a weapon and played the game as hard as the rules allowed him to. He established himself as one of the best front rowers in the game during his 136-game stint with Balmain before joining the Cowboys in 1996 on a lucrative contract. He played 21 games for the club that year and was one of their best. He moved to the UK in 1997, but retired after one season due to injury.

11. Kyle Warren
Tough and mobile, Warren could play either in the forwards or the backs. He initially headed to Manly from the Brisbane competition but failed to make an impact, and then moved to the Cowboys. He had five successful seasons in North Queensland, playing nearly 90 games in the top grade, before heading to the UK and then finally back to the Brisbane competition.

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(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)


12. David Maiden
Hailing from North Queensland, David Maiden failed make a big impression with the Cowboys, playing just two games for the club in 1995, before returning to the Queensland Cup competition for the next three years. He then spent three years playing in the UK ,and during this period was selected to play six Tests for Scotland.

13. Ian Russell
Ian Russell had more talent than most, but ongoing disciplinary problems put the brakes on his career. After 115 games with Illawarra, the former Dally M lock of the year joined the Cowboys in 1995, playing in their inaugural team. He managed just 12 games for the club over the next two seasons before being sacked in 1996.

14. Shane Muspratt
A handy utility player, Shane Muspratt played 53 games for the Cowboys between 1999 and 2003. He then headed to the Eels in 2004, before later rejoining the Cowboys in 2006 for two more years, playing just five more top-level games.

15. Andrew Whittington
After three seasons with the Gold Coast, the big front rower joined North Queensland for their inaugural season in 1995 and played a total of 11 games for the club that year.

16. Michael Coorey
Able to play either in the back row or in the outside backs, Michael Coorey was a Junior Kangaroo representative before joining the Cowboys from Warwick. He played 18 games for the club over the next three seasons, before heading to the Queensland Cup for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. The Broncos picked him up in 2001 and he played seven first grade games for them over the next three years. He also played five Tests for Lebanon.

17. Aaron Ketchell
Hailing from Tully, Aaron Ketchell was an Australian Schoolboys and Junior Queensland representative before joining the Cowboys as a 17-year-old in 1995. A very good second rower, he played 12 games for the club over the next three seasons.