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Year 12 - 2006

After a superb start to the season with six straight victories for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, including a 36-4 demolition of the eventual premiers Brisbane Broncos, the Cowboys suffered a dramatic form loss to win just five more matches, finishing 9th, and missing the finals series for the first time since 2003.

The round 6 away clash against Newcastle was to be both a high point and the start of the season form slump.

A brilliant Matthew Bowen try sealed the match 18-16, however, the first loss of the season one week later against Cronulla, just one week before the State of Origin series commenced, signalled the start of the Cowboys fall from the top eight.

State of Origin series commitments, with seven players and three coaching staff, plus injuries to key players including Ty Williams (3 weeks into the season), Luke O’Donnell in Origin 1, and Johnathan Thurston in round 20, had some impact on club form.

Winning just five of the remaining 19 matches for the season, it wasn’t until the final two matches that consecutive victories were achieved, as the team found its rhythm to finish the season on a strong note.

One of the few victories in the latter part of the season was an outstanding effort at home against the Brisbane Broncos, defeating them for the second time in the season, 26-10, despite losing playmaker Johnathan Thurston after just five minutes.

A low point of the season came two weeks later with a 40 point loss to the Bulldogs, at home.

The final match victory over Parramatta was a triumph and fitting farewell for three prominent Cowboy players who left the club after season 2006 - Matt Sing (England), Josh Hannay (Cronulla Sharks), and Travis Norton (retirement).

In the Queensland Cup the Young Guns had a solid season, but could not defend their 2005 title, losing in the semi finals to eventual premiers Redcliffe.

Young Guns players featured heavily in representative football, with eight making the Queensland Country side.

Johnathan Thurston added to the history pages by becoming the Club’s fifth international, and just the third to make his debut from the club, following Matthew Bowen and Luke O’Donnell.

Off the field the season was a solid one for the club with healthy crowd figures, and strong corporate sponsorship.
With a new crop of young players set to burst on the scene for season 2007, coupled with the signing of vastly experienced former international Jason Smith, season 2007 is eagerly anticipated.

Season statistics

  • Captains: Travis Norton (20), Aaron Payne (3), Johnathan Thurston (1)
  • Coach: Graham Murray (Neil Henry, Grant Bell – assistant coaches)
  • Principal Sponsor: Toyota
  • Won 11, lost 13
  • Point for 450, points against 463
  • Top point scorer: Johnathan Thurston (142)
  • Finished: 9th
  • Average home crowd: 19,628

Representative players

  • Luke O’Donnell, Johnathan Thurston: Australia v NZ, Australia Tri-Nations series
  • Shane Tronc, Luke O’Donnell, Johnathan Thurston: Australian Prime Ministers XIII
  • Carl Webb, Johnathan Thurston, Jacob Lillyman, Mathew Scott, Matt Bowen, Josh Hannay: Qld State of Origin
  • Luke O’Donnell: NSW State of Origin
  • Mitchell Sargent: NSW Country Origin
  • Jason Barsley, Scott Bolton, Mark Dalle Cort, Ben Lowe, Shane Muspratt: Queensland Residents
  • Jason Barsley, Josh Hannay, Shane Muspratt, Robert Tanielu, Brent McConnell, Clint Amos, Ray Cashmere, Daniel Strickland: Queensland Country

Representative coaches/support staff

  • Graham Murray: NSW State of Origin Coach
  • Neil Henry: QLD State of Origin Assistant Coach
  • Billy Johnstone: QLD State of Origin Head Trainer