Contenders: Most Improved Player

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD CONTENDERS
2014 Cowboys Presentation Ball, Friday 10 October, Jupiters Townsville

2013 winner: Joel Riethmuller

Ethan Lowe

After playing two NRL matches in 2013, the back-rower stepped it up to double figures this season when he proved that he could be a force in the NRL.

He spent the opening two months of the season with the Pride before making it back into the NRL squad for the nine round victory against Brisbane at 1300SMILES Stadium.

He held his spot through to round 17 when a betting suspension cost him a month on the sidelines.

The 23-year-old played his first NRL final against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium and backed up a week later in the Northern Pride’s starting forward pack in their Intrust Super Cup grand final win against Easts.

With just under 32 tackles a game, Lowe was No.1 amongst all Cowboys in 2014.

His season high of 47 tackles came against Parramatta in round 13.

Michael Morgan

Selection in the Kangaroos’ Four Nations train-on squad and the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII showed just how far Morgan came in season 2014.

Thrown into the fullback role – a position that was completely foreign to him – when Lachlan Coote suffered a season-ending knee injury in the NRL Auckland Nines, the 22-year-old was a relevation and ended up playing all 26 matches in the No.1 jersey, missing his only minutes when he came off with concussion in the final against Brisbane.

The 26 games he contested took his overall career total to 56 and was double his previous best for a season.

With 20 try assists, he ranked fifth in the NRL and he was equal fifth in the competition for linebreak assists (15), just two behind Dally M Medal winner Johnathan Thurston.

Thirteen linebreaks, often running off JT, ranked him second amongst all Cowboys.

The Cowboys members voted him as their 2014 Members Player.

Matthew Wright

Despite only joining the Cowboys in the week prior to their first pre-season trial, Wright turned out to be one of the NQ squad’s most valuable players in 2014.

After a couple of games with the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup, the ex-Shark made his Cowboys debut in round five against Newcastle, where he scored on debut in a sign of the attacking prowess to come.

His nine-try haul included a hat-trick against the Tigers and doubles against grand finalists Souths and Canterbury.

Defensively, he was also strong, both at left centre and on the wing with a missed tackle count of less than one per game.

An outstanding year was only brought to an end by an ASADA-enforced suspension which came into effect after round 23.