The Weekend Post : 2019-01-12

Sport : 47 : 47

Sport

SPORT 47 CAIRNSPOST.COM.AU SATURDAY JANUARY 12 2019 Can the Cowboys replace Johnathan Thurston? The simple answer is no. It’s impossible for anyone to single-handedly replace one of the greatest ever. Filling that sizeable hole, not only in playmaking skills but in leadership on and off the field, will have to be done by committee. The tools are there for the challenge to be achieved, with Michael Morgan already proving he can thrive as the main playmaker. Who will partner Morgan in the halves? On face value there’s a struck match between the two clear contenders, Te Maire Martin and Jake Clifford. While Martin is a New Zealand international and has the experience, youngster Clifford is closing fast. The Tully product was understandably hesitant when thrust into first grade beside his childhood hero Thurston late last season, but grew in confidence during his six NRL games. He was named man of the match in his under-20 appearances for Queensland and Australia respectively, and was recently named in the Emerging Maroons squad. Martin has the spark, but Clifford has the better kicking skills. This one’s going down to the wire. Who will be skipper? Morgan is the hot favourite to assume the mantle fulltime. Coach Paul Green is hesitant to persist with the cocaptain model Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston filled so successfully for so long. Scott has already indicated publicly he’d be willing to step aside and let Morgan take the reins. It seems the natural progression for the Townsville local, who has committed to the club until the end of 2023. Scott could adopt a bench role and is likely to retire at the end of the year, which will give him 12 months to help groom Morgan as the Cowboys’ next long-term leader. Sun, Jun 2 – Titans at Cbus Super Stadium Sat, Jun 8 – Sea Eagles at 1300SMILES Stadium Fri, Jun 14 – Tigers at 1300SMILES Stadium Fri, Jun 28 – Dragons at WIN Stadium Bye Sun, Jul 14 - Roosters at Central Coast Stadium Sat, Jul 20 – Rabbitohs at 1300SMILES Stadium Thu, Jul 25 – Sharks at Shark Park Thu, Aug 1 – Tigers at Leichhardt Oval Thu, Aug 8 – Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium Sat, Aug 17 – Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium Rd 12: Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo, 14 Kurt Baptiste, 15 Scott Bolton, 16 Matt Scott, 17 John Asiata. tating running games by targeting opposition playmakers in the defensive line. two of the best finishers and biggest aerial threats in the NRL. players they won’t be crucified if they make a mistake trying something. Rd 13: Can the Cowboys farewell 1300SMILES Stadium in style? How will big name recruit Josh McGuire be used? Will the new faces help spark the Cowboys? Rd 14: 2019 DRAW Rd 15: Sat, Mar 16 - Dragons at 1300SMILES Fri, Mar 22 - Broncos at Suncorp Stadium Sat, Mar 30 – Sharks at 1300SMILES Stadium Sat, Apr 6 – Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium Fri, Apr 12 – Storm at 1300SMILES Stadium Sat, Apr 20 – Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium Fri, Apr 26 – Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium Fri, May 3 – Titans at 1300SMILES Stadium Sun, May 12 – Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium (Magic Round) Sat, May 18 – Eels at 1300SMILES Stadium Sat, May 25 – Raiders at GIO Stadium Rd 1: The club will say goodbye to the only home ground they’ve known since their entry into the NRL in 1995. A sparkling new stadium awaits in 2020, and they’d love nothing more than to farewell their traditional base at Kirwan in style. The club is undergoing arguably the biggest transition it has seen as it moves into the post-Johnathan Thurston era, and it promises to be a hell of a ride. The former Bronco is regarded as one of the best locks in the game after establishing himself as a mainstay in Queensland’s No.13 jersey. But with Jason Taumalolo seemingly having a mortgage on that role, McGuire looks likely to begin his four-year tenure in Townsville in the front row. It will likely force Scott to the bench as he recovers from off-season neck surgery. The Cowboys have one of the best forward packs on paper, with Jordan McLean establishing himself as a first-choice pick for the Kangaroos. McGuire’s arrival could also allow Taumalolo and Coen Hess the luxury of lurking out wide and maximising their devas- Barba has 12 months to show he still possesses the brilliance that won him the Dally M Medal in 2012. Fresh from winning the Super League’s equivalent award, the Man of Steel, with St Helens, the one-year deal will ensure the Mackay product remains motivated. His ball-playing skills should also help take the pressure off Morgan as he adjusts to life without Thurston. Former Dragons winger Nene Macdonald is another handy acquisition as North Queensland looks to improve its strike power out wide. The Cairns junior plans to have a try-scoring wager with Kyle Feldt. The duo give the Cowboys Rd 16: Rd 17: Rd 2: Rd 3: Rd 18: Rd 4: Can the Cowboys rediscover their attacking mojo? Rd 19: Rd 5: Predictable. Boring. Frustrating. These adjectives were used to describe the Cowboys in 2018. Put simply, they played unattractive football at times, but the good news is they want to be more adventurous in 2019. It’s always been encouraged by the coaches, but as the losses piled up the Cowboys lost the confidence to chance their arm. It has been drilled into the Rd 20: Rd 6: Rd 21: Rd 7: Rd 22: Rd 8: TUXY’S BEST TEAM Rd 9: 1 Ben Barba, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Nene Macdonald, 5 Gideon GelaMosby, 6 Jake Clifford, 7 Michael Morgan, 8 Josh McGuire, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Jordan McLean, 11 Gavin Fri, Aug 23 – Panthers at 1300SMILES Stadium Rd 23: Rd 10: Thu, Aug 29 – Bulldogs at 1300SMILES Stadium Fri, Sep 6: Storm at AAMI Park Rd 24: Rd 11: Rd 25: V1 - CCPE01Z01MA

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