Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Can Cowboys Ride off with the Title? NRL Writer WAYNE HEMING Is Predicting Big Things from the Boys from North Queensland This Season

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Can Cowboys Ride off with the Title? NRL Writer WAYNE HEMING Is Predicting Big Things from the Boys from North Queensland This Season

Article excerpt

THE stars have aligned for a North Queensland Cowboys breakthrough premiership in 2015.

It is the Townsville-based club's 20th anniversary in the NRL.

It is also the 10th anniversary of their heartbreaking grand final loss to the Wests Tigers in 2005 when two young guns, Benji Marshall and Johnathan Thurston, went head-to-head.

There is a sense, after some rough justice which probably cost them a shot at the title for the past few season, that, dare I say it, this is the Cowboys' year.

They've got the players - Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou, Jason Taumalolo, Michael Morgan, Lachlan Coote and new recruits Ben Hannant, Justin O'Neill and livewire hooker Jake Granville. And they've got the coach in Paul Green, a good tactician now far more comfortable in his second season, to be a real force, especially if they begin the season well and don't take 19 rounds to win away from home.

South Sydney clearly is the side to beat after breaking its premiership drought against the Bulldogs last October.

The Rabbitohs have already shown that even without world-class forward Sam Burgess they are a real powerhouse, taking out the Auckland Nines and destroying St Helens in the World Club Challenge final in the UK a fortnight ago.

Still, the Cowboys proved last year reputations count for nothing, beating the Rabbits twice during the regular season - something Green will remind his troops of before going into battle against the defending champions.

Green has identified problem areas and recruited accordingly.

He is more than happy for his Cowboys to ride the high expectation on the club to finally get the job done.

"Look, any team that has got JT (Johnathan Thurston), Matt Scott, Jimmy Tamou and that calibre of player in it, there's always that kind of expectation that comes with it," Green told APN before the club's opening game against the Sydney Roosters. …

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