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A Letter to Todd Payten: If you want to avoid the fans' call for you to get sacked, please do these simple things

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4 days ago
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Dear Todd,

I hope you are travelling well mentally, physically and emotionally after the events of the past several weeks.

It’s difficult to read that fans want you sacked, and I can only imagine the toll that must take on your emotional and mental health. After five losses on the trot, can you blame them?

Now, I don’t want you sacked, as I believe that you are a good coach, but I am a very frustrated North Queensland Cowboys fan and strongly believe that changes ought to be made, especially after the abysmal performance that national Australia witnessed on the weekend.

On paper, the Cowboys have quite a good side. There is an excellent mix of youth and experience on the roster and the coaching staff has a mixture of old heads and fresh ideas.

Indeed, that great promise was seen in Round 3 against the St George Illawarra Dragons where the side put on 46 points at their home!

Against the Dolphins in Round 1, you scored 43 points, and even against the Titans last week, your side scored 18 points in just 25 minutes of football.

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In fact, behind the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos, your side is third in points scored this season in the NRL.

However, all of Australia now knows the Cowboys suffer from an attitude deficit, and with South Sydney coming up to Brisbane this weekend to face your team in Magic Round, there should be no complacency. Yes, Souths are not a great side, and Russell Crowe may have to put the boots on in order to field a side, but you cannot let your team become complacent.

Obviously, you cannot control what your side does on the field. Bombing four tries, all four of which I can guarantee that Penrith, Brisbane and Cronulla would not have bombed, is not your fault, but it does speak to a broader issue which seems to be plaguing the club – complacency.

You called it out yourself in Round 7, after the 42-6 drubbing at Shark Park (just down the road, incidentally, from where you put 46 on the Dragons not that long before). You demanded better from your players and mentioned that people would be dropped.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 04: The Cowboys look on from the in-goal after a Dolphins try during the round nine NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Dolphins at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on May 04, 2024, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The Cowboys look on from the in-goal after a Dolphins try. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Indeed, changes were made; Jason Taumalolo (struggling with a knee complaint) went to the bench, Griffin Neame started in his place, Jack Gosiewski (who was on his way out anyway) went to the reserves and Tom Mikaele came onto the bench.

Mass changes indeed, yet the side went on to lose by just six points to the three-time premiers Penrith. What followed was a nail-biting two-point loss to the Dolphins (a game you could and should have won) and now a two-point loss to the Titans.

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I mean, even Johnathan Thurston, a future Immortal and Cowboys legend, summed it up best when he said, “As a Cowboys fan, I feel like crying. It’s hard to watch.” If he found it difficult to watch, then imagine how frustrated your fans feel?

Despite the same messages preached to the side each week, it does not seem to be cutting through.

The squad’s attitude and effort is significantly lacking, and there are very clearly some players who are having off seasons.

Scott Drinkwater has become allergic to the high ball, Semi Valemei needs to learn to defend and catch the high ball, Valentine Holmes needs to work on kicking and catching amongst other players with issues.

The problem is not that these guys make mistakes every week; the problem is that they aren’t held accountable for those mistakes.

Bill Belichick was well known for not tolerating mistakes, pulling his first-string players in favour of guys who weren’t as good but wouldn’t make that mistake.

Craig Bellamy refuses to allow players who consistently underperform play in his first-grade side. There’s a fine line between backing them to get back to their best and insanity.

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Indeed, in the quote erroneously attributed to Albert Einsten, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Todd, surely it’s time to send some of these players back to reserve grade for a few weeks to help their development?

I’ve never met you, and I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about running a footy club, but from outside observation, it seems that a change is needed in personnel, tactics and messaging.

Know that this Cowboys fan has had a gutful of our insipid underperformance this season and wants to see some improvements in a hurry.

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