Grin­ners ... or sin­ners

Townsville Bulletin - - NRL 2011 - by Antony Ste­wart antony. ste­wart@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

FIVE rea­sons why the Cow­boys will re-emerge as a pre­mier­ship force. 1. Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen: When you have got two s up­er­stars l i ke t hese gen­uine match-win­ners you can never be counted out. Thurston is with­out ques­tion one of the great half­backs of all time and when he and his team­mates are all on the same page can be close to un­stop­pable. The same goes with Bowen. Three years of in­jury have dis­rupted him but he showed signs in pre-sea­son that he was get­ting back to his elu­sive, con­fi­dent best. 2. New blood: Af­ter years of cling­ing to the same player per­son­nel, hop­ing they would re­dis­cover the form that took the Cow­boys surg­ing into the 2007 fi­nals, man­age­ment fi­nally de­cided enough was enough at the end of 2010. A com­bi­na­tion of youth and well es­tab­lished ex­pe­ri­ence, in Dal­las John­son and Brent Tate, have given the team a new look and with it a feel­ing that bet­ter times are ahead. 3. Halves depth: While Thurston with­out ques­tion holds the key for the Cow­boys, the long-stand­ing strug­gle to find him a halves part- made some good buys in the off­sea­son but two of their best – Brent Tate and An­to­nio Win­ter­stein – are set to spend a large chunk of the first half of the sea­son on the in­jured list. Al­though they will be back, the fear is that by the time they do they will have been so badly missed that North Queens­land will be chas­ing their own tails to make up ground. 3. The in­ner sanc­tum: When the Cow­boys are los­ing. ru­mours of in­ner un­rest be­tween se­nior play­ers and coach­ing staff in­vari­ably rear their head and have on more than few oc­ca­sions over the past two sea­sons. The team has rarely re­acted well when that starts. They will hope an off-sea­son over­haul crushes any more re­peat un­rest. 4. Prop for­wards: Matt Scott is one heck of an im­pos­ing pres­ence for the Cow­boys, but he has a young sup­port cast around him in the f r o n t r o w . W h i l e t h e y un­ques­tion­ably come with plenty of po­ten­tial, props his­tor­i­cally don’t hit their peak un­til their mid 20s to 30s. If Scott is hurt the ques­tion is, is there enough drive in the en­gine­room to step up? 5. Un­will­ing­ness to ex­per­i­ment: Ex­ter­nally one of the great­est re­cent crit­i­cisms of the Cow­boys has been de­ci­sions to stick with what they know in team se­lec­tions de­spite dis­ap­point­ing re­sults rather than try some­thing new. Give the young­sters a chance.

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