THE North Queensland Cowboys have had to work hard to earn the respect of their peers in the National Rugby League. Now, after a tough slog in the early years, they are regulars at the top end of the ladder.
Paul Green’s men captured hearts and minds all over Australia when they rallied from eighth on the ladder to reach the NRL Grand Final in 2017. They could not replicate that feat in 2018, however, slumping to 13th place in Johnathan Thurston’s farewell season.
Can North Queensland return to the finals frame this season? Let’s see what the bookies are saying.
About the North Queensland Cowboys
|Home ground:||1300SMILES Stadium|
|Premierships:||One – 2015|
|2018 ladder finish:||13th (8-16)|
Best bookies for North Queensland Cowboys betting
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Updated Cowboys futures odds
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|2018 Premiership||Make Finals||Make Top 4||Dally M Odds||Top Tryscorer Odds|
|Feb||$5.50||$1.25||$1.90||J Taumalolo – $9||K Feldt – $31|
|Mar||$5||$1.18||$1.80||J Taumalolo – $9||K Feldt – $31|
|Apr||$17||$2.05||$6||J Thurston – $31||K Feldt – $13|
|May||$41||$3.20||$15||J Taumalolo – $41||K Feldt – $23|
|Jun||$34||$4.25||$34||J Taumalolo – $19||K Feldt – $26|
|Jul||$34||$4.25||$34||J Taumalolo – $19||K Feldt – $26|
|Aug||N/A||N/A||N/A||J Taumalolo – $67||K Feldt – $126|
|Sep||N/A||N/A||N/A||J Taumalolo – $81||N/A|
Best NQ Cowboys bets for NRL 2018
There are dozens of NRL futures markets for North Queensland, but where are they likely to return some real value?
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- NQC nearly pulled off a fairytale for the ages last year when they made it all the way to the big dance after only just scraping into finals. They did so without Johnathan Thurston and a host of other first-team talents. With their big names back and a highly rated coach in Paul Green, the Cowboys are rightly ranked among the favourites for the 2018 flag.
- North Queensland have plenty going in their favour this year. JT has retired from representative football, which means no agonising over whether he will return from State of Origin in one piece. Matthew Scott is back after missing most of 2017 with a busted ACL. Jason Taumalolo might be the most dangerous player in the comp, while Coen Hess is an up-and-coming star on the second row. Top four is a very, very good chance.
- Taumalolo and Thurston are two of the standout contenders for the 2018 Dally M Medal. If both stay fit and avoid suspension, they will most certainly feature at the top end of the count. Another to consider is Michael Morgan, who finished second to Storm skipper Cameron Smith last year despite missing his regular halves partner for much of the campaign.
- The Cowboys are not known for prolific wingmen, so it would be a surprise if the NRL top tryscorer came from Townsville this year. Kyle Feldt looks the best bet after topping the club leaderboard with 15 tries in 2017.
2018 North Queensland Cowboys draw
|1||Cronulla Sharks||1300SMILES Stadium||Friday, March 9||7:50pm|
|2||Brisbane Broncos||Suncorp Stadium||Friday, March 16||7:50pm|
|3||Melbourne Storm||AAMI Park||Thursday, March 22||7:50pm|
|4||Penrith Panthers||1300SMILES Stadium||Thursday, March 29||7:50pm|
|5||New Zealand Warriors||Mt Smart Stadium||Saturday, April 7||5:30pm|
|6||Canterbury Bulldogs||1300SMILES Stadium||Saturday, April 14||5:30pm|
|7||Gold Coast Titans||1300SMILES Stadium||Saturday, April 21||7:30pm|
|8||Canberra Raiders||1300SMILES Stadium||Saturday, April 28||7:30pm|
|9||Penrith Panthers||Carrington Park||Friday, May 4||7:50pm|
|10||Wests Tigers||Leichhardt Oval||Thursday, May 10||7:50pm|
|11||South Sydney Rabbitohs||1300SMILES Stadium||Saturday, May 19||5:30pm|
|12||Melbourne Storm||1300SMILES Stadium||Friday, May 25||7:50pm|
|13||Manly Sea Eagles||Lottoland||Thursday, May 31||7:50pm|
|14||Parramatta Eels||TIO Stadium||Saturday, June 9||7:30pm|
|15||New Zealand Warriors||1300SMILES Stadium||Friday, June 15||6pm|
|16||South Sydney Rabbitohs||Barlow Park||Sunday, July 1||4:10pm|
|18||Canberra Raiders||GIO Stadium||Saturday, July 14||7:30pm|
|19||St George Illawarra Dragons||1300SMILES Stadium||Saturday, July 21||7:30pm|
|20||Newcastle Knights||1300SMILES Stadium||Friday, July 27||6pm|
|21||Sydney Roosters||Allianz Stadium||Saturday, August 4||7:30pm|
|22||Brisbane Broncos||1300SMILES Stadium||Thursday, August 9||7:50pm|
|23||Cronulla Sharks||Southern Cross Stadium||Saturday, August 18||7:30pm|
|24||Parramatta Eels||1300SMILES Stadium||Friday, August 24||7:50pm|
|25||Gold Coast Titans||Cbus Super Stadium||Saturday, September 1||5:30pm|
Cowboys players to watch in 2018
If not for suspension, Taumalolo would have gone very close to defending his Dally M crown in 2017. The NZ and Tonga rep is an absolute monster in the forward half, but it is the turn of foot and sharpness of movement with ball in hand that make him a really, really special player. Expect another influential campaign from the big man.
Last year was a big one for Morgan. He did a marvellous job at halfback in Thurston’s absence, driving the Cowboys all the way to the NRL Grand Final and earning 25 Dally M votes in the process. This is a man who is playing his very best football as he enters the peak years of his career.
Position: Second row
Hess was a weapon from the interchange bench last season, racking up 13 tries to finish second only to Kyle Feldt (15) in the club tryscoring charts. He was also part of Queensland’s matchday squad for all three Origin games. The boy from Bundaberg has a very bright future ahead.
North Queensland Cowboys records and stats
- Most games: 270* – Johnathan Thurston
Most career points: 2016* – Johnathan Thurston
Most points in a season: 234 – Johnathan Thurston (2014)
Most career tries: 130 – Matthew Bowen
Most tries in a season: 22 – Matthew Bowen (2007)
Most points in a match: 24 – Johnathan Thurston (vs. Broncos 2006)
- Most consecutive wins: 11 (2015)
Most consecutive losses: 13 (2008)
Biggest winning margin: 64-6 (vs. Tigers, 2014)
Biggest losing margin: 0-62 (vs. Eels, 2001)
Largest home attendance: 30,302 (vs. Broncos, 2009)
- The story of the North Queensland Cowboys begins in the 1980s with the growing influence of regional teams in the statewide competition. Plans for a team based in Townsville were hatched soon after the Brisbane Broncos were granted admission into the NSWRL in 1988. Years of campaigning bore fruit in 1992, when it was announced that the Cowboys would join the newly created Australian Rugby League in 1995.
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. North Queensland have not missed the top eight once since 2011.
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