While the last chance saloon for Willie Mason might be in tropical North Queensland with the Cowboys, whats more interesting about this particular deal is that Mason did not pick his former home town of Newcastle.
It does seem to be a good fit at North Queensland, the Cowboys are out of the spotlight that Sydney clubs get so often and the locals are reported to be hugely in favour of getting Mason on board to boost their forward stocks for 2010.
Adding to the attraction is former teammates Jonathan Thurston and Willie Tonga – the Cowboys probably hoping that bringing Willie on board could potentially keep both JT and Willie with the club as a package for years to come.
But the move must signal alarm bells for Newcastle Knights fans.
Ok, so a fair majority of Knights supporters did not want Willie Mason, but what should be concerning to these fans is ‘why didn’t Mason want you either?’
Take a look at the attraction of Newcastle for Mason; its his former home town, the big prop was raised there and his mother still lives locally with his siblings.
His younger brother Rodney is playing junior grades with the Knights, which would be another draw card for the veteran Mason.
And to top all this off, senior players including Kurt Gidley were super keen to get Mason on board as was new coach Rick Stone.
But in the end, Mason felt the better prospects were with North Queensland. He cited too many behavioural clauses and the fact fans in Newcastle may not want him as reasons for not signing with the Knights.
While these 2 elements may be true, given the fact that both the Cowboys and Knights were offering similar money – it really seems like Knights might not be the heavy hitters they once were.
The club has lost leading coach Brian Smith, they’ve recently had the Danny Wicks scandal rip them apart and their playing roster doesn’t set the world on fire when on paper and compared to other teams in 2010.
While Mason would not want to say it publicly, surely rookie coach Rick Stone and a basic roster at Newcastle would have been a turnoff for the former Rooster and Bulldog.
Linking with the Cowboys seemed the best move for Mason and for the North Queensland outfit too. They needed to bolster their stocks, the profile of Mason should work well up North and feeling wanted again could see Mason achieve big things including possible rep honors once more.