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The North Queensland Cowboys have had to work hard to earn the respect of their peers in the National Rugby League.
Now, with Johnathan Thurston retired and Paul Green out of the coaches’ box, the Cowboys are looking to rebuild after a couple of disappointing seasons.
Can Todd Payten lead North Queensland back to the top eight? Let’s see what Australia’s best NRL bookmakers are saying about their prospects going forward.
|Home ground:||Queensland Country Bank Stadium|
|Premierships:||One – 2015|
|2020 ladder finish:||14th (5-15)|
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|2021 Premiership||Make Finals||Wooden Spoon|
There are dozens of NRL futures markets for North Queensland, but where are they likely to return some real value?
Click on the tabs below to get more analysis on these markets:
|1||Penrith Panthers||Panthers Stadium||Saturday, March 13||6:35pm|
|2||St George Illawarra Dragons||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Saturday, March 20||6:35pm|
|3||Gold Coast Titans||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Saturday, March 28||5:15pm|
|4||Cronulla Sharks||Sunshine Coast Stadium||Saturday, April 3||4:30pm|
|5||Wests Tigers||Leichhardt Oval||Sunday, April 11||4:05pm|
|6||Canterbury Bulldogs||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Sunday, April 18||4:05pm|
|7||Canberra Raiders||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Sunday, April 24||7:35pm|
|8||New Zealand Warriors||Mt Smart Stadium||Sunday, May 2||2pm|
|9||Brisbane Broncos||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Sunday, May 8||7:35pm|
|10||Sydney Roosters||Suncorp Stadium||Saturday, May 15||7:45pm|
|11||Newcastle Knights||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Thursday, May 20||7:50pm|
|12||New Zealand Warriors||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Friday, May 28||6pm|
|14||Manly Sea Eagles||Lottoland||Friday, June 11||6pm|
|15||Cronulla Sharks||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Friday, June 18||6pm|
|16||Newcastle Knights||McDonald Jones Stadium||Saturday, July 3||7:35pm|
|17||South Sydney Rabbitohs||Stadium Australia||Friday, July 9||7:55pm|
|18||Sydney Roosters||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Saturday, July 17||5:30pm|
|19||Melbourne Storm||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Friday, July 23||7:55pm|
|20||Brisbane Broncos||Suncorp Stadium||Friday, July 30||7:55pm|
|21||Gold Coast Titans||Cbus Super Stadium||Sunday, August 8||4:05pm|
|22||Wests Tigers||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Saturday, August 14||5:30pm|
|23||Parramatta Eels||Bankwest Stadium||Saturday, August 21||7:35pm|
|24||St George Illawarra Dragons||WIN Stadium||Saturday, August 28||3pm|
|25||Manly Sea Eagles||Queensland Country Bank Stadium||Friday, September 4||5:30pm|
Is there a better player to watch in the NRL? Jason Taumalolo has now won the Paul Bowman Medal five years running and looks the man to beat once again in 2021. If he stays fit and doesn’t get into too much trouble with the judiciary, he could figure in the Dally M Medal reckoning as well.
The Cowboys have a few promising types coming through, but the clear standout is Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. He notched six tries in 14 games during his debut NRL campaign while playing mostly on the wing, and this year we can expect him to offer plenty of strike power in the centres.
The year 2020 was an interesting one for Valentine Holmes, who struggled to make an impact in his first season with the Cowboys but finished with a bang in Queensland’s State of Origin win. It remains to be seen whether he gets another crack at fullback, but we all know what a weapon he can be on the wing.
Those were tumultuous years for even the most established Sydney clubs, let alone a rag-tag pack of underdogs from the tropical north. The Cowboys went through no fewer than eight captains in their first two seasons as they struggled for stability both on and off the field. Whereas some clubs (read Melbourne Storm) took to the NRL like ducks to water, it was not until 2004 that North Queensland managed to qualify for finals.
That upward trend continued with the landmark signing of Johnathan Thurston in 2005. JT won his first Dally M that season as the Cowboys reached their first NRL Grand Final, where they lost to Wests Tigers. A run to the prelims followed in 2007 before a series of injury woes and off-field dramas saw them slide back to the bottom end of the table in 2008.
The debut of 17-year-old Jason Taumalolo in 2010 heralded the dawn of a new era for the Cowboys. They improved steadily over the coming years, becoming a fixture in the top eight and breaking through with a maiden premiership in 2015.