They’ve fought back hard in the last few years to finally become a consistent and powerful team in the NRL; the North Queensland Cowboys used to be the easybeats but are now feared by all opponents as a team that can really turn on the points during an NRL match.
As the 2008 season rolls around, it’s not the away games or playing talent that is holding this North Queensland side back – it seems their real foe is a party culture atmosphere that club officials are struggling to stamp out.
The first hint of trouble was discovered early last year when Jonathan Thurston was involved in a late night brawl. Confirmed as a ‘one off’ incident where Thurston was coming to the aid of a female companion – it seemed to blow over quickly. Later in 2007, the likes of Steve Southern and David Faiumu were soon caught up in drunken incidents and surely the club must have started getting concerned at this stage.
Southern was involved in a late night altercation outside a pizza shop and was injured during the scuffle, resigning his 2007 season to the sideline as the Cowboys forward stocks were depleted badly towards season end. For Faiumu, an allegedÂ drunken assault incident continued the poor run for the North Queensland squad.
Now it seems, just when the dust settles on 2007 – Dally M winner and club captain Jonathan Thurston has been hauled before a judge after a drunken incident during Australia Day celebrations recently. While it seems this latest incident was fairly minor, surely Peter Parr and his back office troops must be worried about the culture at the successful club?
While relatively minor, the fact that Thurston has been caught twice with his hand in the cookie jar now and as club captain, the young half needs to really be setting the standard for his squad to follow. A member of the infamous Bulldogs party crew that was always seemingly in trouble, it seems Thurston may not have forgotten his bad boy ways as he continues to hit headlines.
Much is expected of the Cowboys on the field in 2008, with classy pivot Travis Burns from Manly now signed to the club and a hopefully better run with injuries, many still have the North Queensland club pencilled in for Top 4 Honours.
However it may be time that club officials and the relaxed Graham Murray come down hard on rowdy players and stamp out this rot before it gets out of hand and starts costing them results on the field.