Papua New Guinea star commits future to North Queensland Cowboys after helping Kumuls win Pacific Bowl

Drew Darbyshire
Zac Laybutt North Queensland Cowboys Alamy

Zac Laybutt in action for North Queensland Cowboys in 2023 - Alamy

Papua New Guinea international Zac Laybutt has signed a one-year contract extension with North Queensland Cowboys, keeping him at the NRL club until at least the end of 2025.

The 21-year-old centre burst onto the NRL scene earlier this year from outside the Cowboys’ top 30 squad, making his debut in Round 13 against Parramatta Eels.

Laybutt went on to play four games for the Cowboys during his breakthrough NRL season, scoring three tries, including a double in their win over the Dolphins in Round 26.

Zac is the younger brother of fellow Papua New Guinea international Kyle Laybutt, who made two first-grade appearances for the Cowboys between 2017 and 2018.

The Laybutt brothers were born and raised in Bundaberg, Queensland, and are of proud Papua New Guinean and Indigenous Australian heritage.

Kyle has won 11 caps for the Kumuls, representing PNG at the delayed World Cup, whilst Zac made his international debut for the Kumuls this autumn, playing in three games alongside his older brother to help Justin Holbrook’s side win the Pacific Bowl.

North Queensland Cowboys ‘thrilled’ to have secured Papua New Guinea star Zac Laybutt to new deal

Laybutt has been promoted to the North Queensland’s top 30 squad for the next two seasons.

Cowboys general manager of football Michael Luck said: “Zac is a tremendously talented young player, but what he was able to achieve last year exceeded the already high expectations we had for him.

“What was most impressive was how he handled the step up through the grades from Under-21s to Queensland Cup to the NRL and he looked comfortable with every progression.

“Zac is a very coachable young player who came into first grade as a centre, but he also has the ability to play five-eighth or full-back.

“We’re thrilled to have secured Zac for another year, he makes our club a better place and we look forward to seeing him progress.”

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