• It was a rare wet training session for the Cowboys NRL squad on Wednesday morning. With North Queensland experiencing another dry summer – so far at least – our boys have been training under blue skies almost exclusively since November. “All I’ve heard about is how wet it gets in the summer up here but I’ve hardly seen a drop of rain,” new signing Lachlan Coote said.

• Late last year, we told you about the hair-growing bet that was underway between Robert Lui,Ray Thompson and Rory Kostjasyn – the first to have their hair cut had to get a tattoo. The end result was a draw. They called the bet off just before Christmas after no one looked like giving in and while Ray and Rob have shaved off their locks, Rory has kept his through into the New Year.

• We should know by the end of next week whether Johnathan Thurston has won a second Golden Boot as the world player of the year. English magazine Rugby League World presents the award with 13 judges voting on who the best player was in the game in 2013. JT’s outstanding Rugby League World Cup campaign, which included four man-of-the-match awards, will have given his chances a major boost.

• There are guaranteed to be some new teams in this year’s Laurie Spina Shield, presented by Guildford Coal. The Burleigh Bears from the Gold Coast have already lodged their nomination for the two-day under-11s carnival that coincides with the Cowboys’ round 16 NRL clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs at 1300SMILES Stadium. A composite team from the Northern Territory will also join the field which is capped at 64 teams.

• Tariq Sims undertook a serious road trip on his Christmas-New Year break. After spending time in Western Australia with partner Ashleigh, the couple then drove from Sydney to Townsville, stopping off at Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast for some holiday fun.

• The starting times for the Cowboys’ NYC trials against the Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters have been confirmed. The match against the Pride will kick off at 3.30pm on Saturday 1 February at Brothers Cairns, while the clash with the reigning Intrust Super Cup champions will be played at Virgin Australia Stadium in Mackay at 6pm on Saturday 8 February.

• A belated “happy birthday” goes to Michael Morgan who turned 22 on 27 December and Hezron Murgha who celebrated his 28th birthday on New Year’s Day. There’s also a birthday coming up for Kane Linnett who turns 25 on Saturday.

• NYC squad member Hayden Crowley has had his return to training delayed. The winger was spending his Christmas-New Year break with his dad on Christmas Island when heavy weather struck and his flight back to the mainland was cancelled.

• Add this to the family calendar – the annual Cowboys Community Day will be held at Townsville RSL Stadium from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday 1 February. It’ll be your first chance to win a fully signed 2014 Cowboys jersey and get your team poster and merch signed.

• North Queensland are currently fifth favourites with bookmakers for the NRL premiership. At $14, the Cowboys only trail the Roosters ($5), Rabbitohs ($6.50), Sea Eagles ($7) and Storm ($7.50).