• The bye week was good news for the Toyota Cowboys. Not only did they pick up the two points, almost every team around them on the congested ladder lost to open up the possibility of a move into the top eight, or close to it, at the end of this weekend’s round if they can beat Cronulla on Friday night. North Queensland are now in 12th place, but only one win behind the Brisbane Broncos who are in seventh with a game to come against Penrith tonight. The Cowboys’ strong for and against record (+60) is a definite plus for them in the run in to the finals. Of their remaining eight matches, four are against teams currently in the top eight (Bulldogs, Panthers, Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles) and four are against teams outside the eight (Sharks twice, Titans and Tigers). There are four home games to come, as well as four away trips.

• The Cowboys were back on the training field this morning for the first time since their bye week break. They had a double session on their first day back with weights in the afternoon. State of Origin duo Johnathan Thurston and James Tamou have been excused from training until later in the week.

• Michael Morgan has rejoined the Cowboys after his first taste of a State of Origin camp with the Maroons. He described it as “a great experience”. After helping out Billy Slater by holding a tackle shield in the dressing room warm-up, you may have seen that he was joined by our two injured Queensland stars, Brent Tate and Matt Scott, in the seats behind the Maroons’ bench for game three.

Tatey says it will still be some time before he decides whether he will play on next season following his fourth knee reconstruction. “I had the surgery and the doctor has given me all the info,” he said last week. “I just want to make sure I’m not basing my decision around emotion. I’m sore and I want to take my time. Whatever decision I make, it’s not about me. It’s about my family."

• Congratulations to NYC squad members Regan Grieve and Gideon Mosby-Gela, who have been selected in the Australian Schoolboys squad to tour England and France later this year. They were two of only four Queenslanders to make the 24-player team following the national championships in Darwin last week. The two NSW teams, Combined High Schools and Combined Catholic Colleges, played off in the final and provided the other 20 national representatives. Regan and Gideon are both at Kirwan State High School and were part of the Townsville Stingers’ under-18 national title winning team.

• It’s our last Channel Nine/WIN free-to-air TV game of the home and away season on Friday night. If you’re in Queensland, you’ll be able to see the clash with the Sharks from 7.30pm. It’s on delay in the other states.

Johnathan Thurston has been so busy during the Origin period, he hasn’t been able to indulge in his other favourite sport – golf. That all changed this afternoon when he finally found some time to enjoy 18 holes in Townsville.

• Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Andrew Croll showed off his triathlon talents in the Townsville Triathlon Festival on Sunday. He finished fourth in his age group and 25th overall in the inaugural Olympic distance race. Our game day ground announcer Garth Doyle completed the swim leg in the Hot FM team that finished third in the male corporate teams event, while an all-Cowboys team featuring former players and current staff members Ash Graham (bike) and Micheal Luck (run) as well as rehab trainer Anthony Wood (swim), took fifth.

John Asiata will be in the Hot FM Townsville studios with Ashton Sims on Wednesday morning. You can hear them on the breakfast show after 8am.

• See what trickshot our NRL rookie Zac Santo has to offer on the WIN News Locker Room in Wednesday night’s bulletin. It will be on air around 7.15pm.

Cameron King was a special guest at the Toyota Cowboys Academy session held in Cairns this afternoon. Still in the early weeks of his rehabilitation following knee reconstruction surgery, Kingy was able to help the young footballers with some training drills as well as chat to them about life in the NRL.

• The Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters will be involved in the QRL’s annual Country Week in August. The Mackay Cutters will play the Sunshine Coast Falcons at Moranbah and the Northern Pride’s clash with Souths Logan Magpies will be in Mareeba. Both games will be held on Saturday night, 9 August.