North Queensland Cowboys 2012 season review
Reached the finals for the first time since 2007 last year – what does 2012 hold for Thurston and co?
An end of season slump in form saw the Cowboys end the year in seventh and they were easily beaten by Manly in the finals.
But there were plenty of positives in 2011 for the Townsville club and they look in equally good shape this year.
Jonathon Thurston remains integral to the Cowboys hopes but his supporting cast has plenty going for it too. Matt Bowen is back to his best, Matt Scott is the game’s top front rower and Tariq Sims was a revelation last year.
Willie Tonga has joined the Eels and will be missed although new signings Robert Lui and Kane Linnett are intriguing captures.
On the whole the Cowboys have every reason to be positive but there is a feeling other sides could have more improvement in them.
A serious injury to Thurston would be disastrous but even with their star man on the field the Cowboys could come up short in 2012.
Players in: Robert Lui (Tigers) and Kane Linnett (Roosters)
Players out: Willie Tonga (Eels), Leeson Ah Mau (Dragons) and Clint Amos (Retired)
Coach: Neil Henry – After coming under fire in 2010 Henry bounced back well last year and will be keen to build on the performances of 2011.
Star man: Jonathon Thurston – One of the finest players in the game and a vital cog in the Cowboys machine. Likely to be paired with new boy Robert Lui or the promising Ray Thompson.
Breakthrough year: Jason Taumalolo – Still only 19, imposing Kiwi back rower Taumalolo made a big impression in three appearances last season and looks to have an extremely bright future.
Young gun: Kyle Feldt – Powerful centre who is the verge of breaking into first grade after an outstanding junior career. Prolific try scorer who is also very capable with the boot.