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Year 18 - 2012

The 2012 NRL season was an outstanding one for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys with back-to-back finals appearances for the first time in five years and a host of individual accomplishments.

The Cowboys’ exit from the competition came in very controversial fashion against Manly in the second week of the finals, but it did not overshadow another year of substantial progress.

The 2012 squad matched club records for most premiership points in a season (34) and most away victories in a season (seven), and were the highest scoring team in the competition, on the way to fifth place after the home and away rounds.

In week one of the finals, Dairy Farmers Stadium hosted its first Cowboys final since 2007 when more than 21,000 people saw North Queensland end Brisbane’s season with a 33-16 victory – the club’s third victory against their arch-rivals for the season.

Several players achieved very significant milestones during the year:

  • Matthew Bowen became the first Cowboy to play 250 NRL matches.
  • Aaron Payne earned life membership when he brought up his 200th appearance against Melbourne in round six and went on to play another 19 matches before deciding to end an illustrious career at season’s end.
  • Johnathan Thurston played his 150th game for the Cowboys, brought up 1000 points for the club and became the first Cowboy to win the Ken Stephen Medal honouring his work in the Indigenous employment and education areas.
  • Dallas Johnson reached the 200-game mark overall and 50 for the Cowboys.

For some individual players, it was a year of triumph in the representative arena, with Brent Tate, Johnathan Thurston and Matthew Scott all members of the Queensland State of Origin squad that clinched a record seventh consecutive victory against New South Wales whose line-up included Cowboys front-rower James Tamou for the first time.

Thurston equalled a State of Origin record in the final game when he ran out for the Maroons for the 21st consecutive time.

Thurston and Tamou played in Australia’s Test win against New Zealand in April, and were joined by Scott for the victory against the Kiwis at Dairy Farmers Stadium in October. Scott won the man-of-the-match award in the second match which also included Tamou’s first Test try.

Earlier in the representative season, Aaron Payne and Brent Tate played for the NRL All Stars and Johnathan Thurston captained the Indigenous All Stars for the first time.

Their line-up included two other Cowboys, Matthew Bowen and Cory Paterson.

In the Toyota Cup, North Queensland had a frustrating first season under new coach Todd Wilson and missed out on making the finals.

Although they scored excellent away victories against top-eight teams Wests Tigers and Canterbury and downed two-time premiers NZ Warriors at home, they finished the year in 13th position on 20 points.

Back-rower Chris Grevsmuhl was named in the Toyota Cup’s Team of the Year and, along with hooker Alex Elisala, represented Queensland in the inaugural under-20s State of Origin clash in Penrith.

Grevsmuhl was also selected for the Junior Kangaroos, while Jason Taumalolo and Wayne Ulugia were called up to play for the Junior Kiwis in the October match, won by the Junior Roos, in Townsville.

The Cowboys’ two Intrust Super Cup affiliate clubs, Northern Pride and the Mackay Cutters, missed out on making the top six – the Pride for the first time - and both appointed new coaches at the end of the season.

The 2012 season also brought an end to Dairy Farmers’ long-running naming rights agreement with North Queensland’s home ground.

Close to 200,000 people came through the gates for the Cowboys’ 13 home games, including the week one final against Brisbane.

The average crowd for the year was 14,994, fractionally up on 2011, and not helped by the scheduling of three home fixtures during the monsoon season.

New signings for 2013 include England international Scott Moore, Melbourne Storm’s Rory Kostjasyn, former St George Illawarra and Catalan Dragons fullback Clint Greenshields and Junior Kiwis centre Curtis Rona while Alex Elisala, Kyle Feldt and Felise Kaufusi were promoted from the NYC squad to be full-time members of the NRL squad.

Season statistics

• Captain(s): Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, Matthew Bowen
• Coach: Neil Henry
• Won 15, lost 9
• Points for: 597; points against: 445
• Top point scorer: Johnathan Thurston (192)
• Finished: 5th
• Cowboy of the Year: Johnathan Thurston
• Average home crowd: 14,883

Representative players

• Queensland State of Origin: Johnathan Thurston, Brent Tate, Matthew Scott
• New South Wales State of Origin: James Tamou
• Australia: Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, James Tamou
• Country Origin: Tariq Sims