Thurston wins second Paul Bowman medal
Friday 5 October 2012 10:00 PM
Co-captain Johnathan Thurston has become only the fourth player to win the Cowboy of the Year Award twice after tonight being named as the Paul Bowman Medal recipient for 2012.
The 29-year-old, who previously won the medal in North Queensland’s 2005 grand final season, received the award from Cowboys life member and foundation player Paul Bowman in front of a record 580 guests at the Presentation Ball at Jupiters Townsville.
The State of Origin and Test star’s strong end to the season allowed him to overhaul front-rower James Tamou, who led the vote count for the majority of the year.
Tamou, who won the Players’ Player of the Year Award, eventually totalled 24 votes to finish eight behind Thurston and four ahead of the Cowboys’ co-captain Matthew Scott, who flashed home with a series of three-point and two-point games in July and August.
Kane Linnett, Matthew Bowen and Gavin Cooper shared fourth place on 13 votes.
Thurston, whose two Paul Bowman Medals now match the two Dally M Medals he has previously collected as the NRL’s best player, also won the Cowboys’ Club Person of the Year Award.
The co-captain, who joined Bowman (1999, 2000), Aaron Payne (2006, 2008) and Luke O’Donnell (2004, 2009) as a two-time Cowboy of the Year, took over the number six jersey in a highly scrutinised move at the start of 2012 and guided North Queensland to its highest finishing position since 2007.
He was second in the NRL for linebreak assists and fourth for try assists and an incredibly accurate run of goal kicking ensured the Cowboys rode into the finals in fifth position.
Coach Neil Henry said Thurston’s 2012 season showed he belonged in the upper echelon of NRL players.
“There was a lot of speculation at the start of the year about his move to five-eighth and not only did he embrace it, he took his game to a new level,” Henry said.
“He was great for us all season long and he had a wonderful season in representative football as well.
“By the time he has played the Test next week he will have played 30 games this season and all of them have been at a very high standard.
“His consistency of performance is what sets him apart.
“There’s no doubt he also continues to make great strides as a leader of this club both on and off the field.”
Retiring hooker Aaron Payne officially became North Queensland’s fourth life member in another highlight of the 18th annual ball, while Matthew Bowen won the Townsville Bulletin Fans’ Choice Award.
Other awards presented included:
• 2012 Players’ Player of the Year: JAMES TAMOU
There is little doubt that 2012 has been James Tamou’s finest season in the NRL.
His rampaging runs, quick feet and ever-improving defence saw him gain Test and Origin jumpers for the first time and were a highlight of the Cowboys’ premiership campaign.
Tamou ended the year ranked third in the NRL for metres gained, carrying the ball with intent for more than 3700 metres, and he was fifth for most hit-ups.
Apart from when he was absent on rep duties, the front-rower didn’t miss a game for the Cowboys and he has the honour of being named his teammates’ best in 2012.
• 2012 Townsville Bulletin Most Improved NQ Cowboy: KANE LINNETT
The Cowboys coaching staff saw plenty of potential in the tall outside back they signed from the Roosters last season, but the way Kane Linnett progressed in 2012 surpassed all pre-season expectations.
In just one season with North Queensland, Linnett managed to double his career total of NRL appearances.
Apart from two games he missed due to injury, Linnett started in every game at left centre in his first year in Townsville, with his strong defence and ability to break the line giving the Cowboys another weapon for their opponents to worry about.
Linnett finished the season third on the club try-scorers’ list with 12 tries and his 3034 metres gained in attack were the second most among all Cowboys.
• 2012 Rookie of the Year: JASON TAUMALOLO
When Jason Taumalolo twice strode through the Roosters’ defence on the way to the tryline in the second half of a 50-12 demolition in Darwin, he showed he belonged in the NRL.
Still only 19, the Junior Kiwis forward played 17 matches in the top grade this year and averaged almost 10 metres per carry, a figure which compares favourably with Test front-rowers Matthew Scott and James Tamou.
He ended the season by playing in his first NRL finals and being included in New Zealand’s train-on squad for the October Test at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
• 2012 Cowboys Toyota Cup Player of the Year: ZAC SANTO
No-one had more of a positive influence on the 2012 Toyota Cowboys than their man at the back, Zac Santo.
Not only was he second in the Toyota Cup competition with 20 tries from 22 appearances, the second highest tally in club history, he also led the Cowboys in metres gained, linebreaks and tackle breaks.
The fullback’s play was consistently brilliant and his hard work and never-give-up attitude set an example for everyone in the under-20s squad.
He will return for his third season in the under-20s in 2013.