‘ I hope our team has turned a cor­ner’

Townsville Bulletin - - Game On -

I MUST ad­mit I’m a lit­tle ner­vous about writ­ing to you all for my first ever col­umn but it’s never been bet­ter to be back in North Queens­land.

And it’s never been bet­ter to be back in the NRL play­ing top-flight rugby league for the North Queens­land Cow­boys.

My fam­ily and I en­joyed our time in France and it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence I’ll never for­get, but be­ing out there at Sun­corp Sta­dium last week­end in front of a crowd of 45,000 spec­ta­tors in such a mas­sive game made me glad to be back in the NRL.

I’ve al­ways known how tough and tena­cious NRL footy is and it’s some­thing that never leaves a player once they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced it.

But I could feel a few nerves com­ing up for that game, es­pe­cially know­ing how huge it was for my club and the fact we hadn’t had much suc­cess against the Bron­cos in re­cent years.

As ev­ery­one knows there is a deep ri­valry be­tween the two teams that never fails to pro­duce an en­ter­tain­ing game. To break a los­ing streak of seven games against the Bron­cos was an achieve­ment in it­self.

What pleased me the most in that game was our de­fence and will­ing­ness to hang in there in the sec­ond half. I know it wasn’t the best sec­ond-half per­for­mance as we didn’t have a lot of pos­ses­sion and turned over the ball

Glenn Hall, Dal­las John­son and Ray Thompson cel­e­brate last Fri­day’s win a few times, but each player kept turn­ing up for the other and scram­bling de­fence does win you games some­times. Say­ing that, we’ll have to be on our best game against the New­cas­tle Knights.

They’ll be on a high af­ter smash­ing the Pan­thers the way they did and our ball con­trol will need to be bet­ter. We’ll have to put up a dom­i­nant de­fen­sive dis­play. I did catch some glimpses of the game and straight away I knew we were in for a real battle.

The Knights have some solid, mo­bile blokes and their back five has plenty of fire­power.

If we give their out­side backs just a lit­tle bit of space they’ll run right through. So we know to­mor­row night is go­ing to be just as tough as last week, if not tougher, and it’d be great to play my first ever home game for the Cow­boys with a big crowd be­hind us. It’s go­ing to be a spe­cial night in par­tic­u­lar for a cou­ple of lads in our ranks. First up I must give a plug to Ash Graham for reach­ing his 100th game for the club which is a huge achieve­ment.

Ash was prob­a­bly the best player on the ground for us against the Bron­cos and he took a lot of pres­sure off us in the mid­dle.

The bloke is the ultimate rugby league pro­fes­sional and he de­serves to reach such a mas­sive mile­stone.

An­other men­tion has to go to Tariq Sims for be­ing named to make his NRL de­but to­mor­row night. It was al­ways go­ing to hap­pen sooner or later – in my opin­ion sooner – and he thor­oughly de­serves his place. Tariq has trained the house down over the pre-sea­son and I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s itch­ing to get out there and I know he’ll be a real player for the fu­ture.

And congratulations to my team­mate Glenn Hall and his wife Kylie on the birth of their baby girl In­di­ana.

To wrap up my first col­umn I must say I have been hear­ing a lot of talk about our team hav­ing turned a cor­ner and I cer­tainly hope we have.

But it’s im­por­tant not to get car­ried away. I know it’s a mat­ter of tak­ing things week by week and just chip­ping away at train­ing.

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