• There’s been plenty happening in our Cowboys’ lives during the off-season including some big personal highlights. Co-captain Matt Scott and wife Lauren became parents with the arrival of their son, named Hugo Ian Scott. Still recovering from shoulder surgery, Matt says Hugo is his “new best mate”. His front-row teammate James Tamou has announced he and partner Britney are expecting a second child in April, while Ray Thompson has a wedding to look forward to after proposing to his long-time girlfriend Sabrina during a holiday in New York. Congrats to everyone!
• The Cowboys have signed three players – one from each of their Intrust Super Cup affiliate clubs – on train and trial contracts for the pre-season. Joining our NRL squad for day one of training on Tuesday were Tom Humble from the Townsville Blackhawks, Cameron Cullen from the Mackay Cutters and Vaipuna Tia Kilifi from the Northern Pride who will all get the chance to impress North Queensland’s coaching staff over the next few weeks. Vaipuna is the brother of NYC squad member Akeripa Tia Kilifi who joined the Cowboys midway through 2014.
• The Cowboys will reveal their 2015 range of NRL jerseys at a media launch at the Cowboys Leagues Club on Thursday – our six players involved will be acting as jersey models from 11am. All welcome!
• Co-captain Johnathan Thurston, his fiancee Samantha Lynch and baby Frankie will be the public face of Townsville Enterprise’s community awareness campaign for the proposed CBD stadium and entertainment precinct. JT said he and his family were fronting the public campaign to secure funding for the proposal because Townsville deserved world-class facilities and locals needed the jobs. The campaign will involve using JT, Sam and Frankie in a range of marketing activities including content for video, print, online, billboards and more. Check out townsvillebulletin.com.au for more details.
• Rory Kostjasyn had his head shaved for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave back in the middle of March this year and hasn’t returned to the hairdresser, or pulled out the clippers, since. Maybe he'll become our new “Thor” now that Ashton Sims has departed for England.
• Third year second-rower Andrew Niemoeller led the way in fitness testing for our NYC squad at the Townsville Sports Reserve on Wednesday afternoon. He showed off his endurance by recording the best time in the 1200m shuttle run, demonstrating that he’d done a great job of keeping himself fit over the off-season.
• Now in his new club ambassador role, Brent Tate will be visiting schools in Ayr, Charters Towers and Bowen over the next few weeks as part of the Cowboys Adopt-a-School program, proudly supported by Stockland. He’ll be in the Burdekin on 25 November, the Towers on 27 November and Bowen on 2 December.
• Cowboys recruitment manager Micheal Luck still keeps himself very fit despite retiring from the NRL at the end of the 2013 season. At the weekend, Micheal finished 10th overall in the half-marathon event at the Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival in Port Douglas.
• NYC forward Jordan Kenworthy has received a late call-up to the Australian Schoolboys for their tour of the UK and France later this month. He joins winger Gideon Mosby as the Cowboys’ two representatives in the squad after back-rower Regan Grieve was forced to withdraw following ankle surgery. The Schoolboys play Wigan Warriors’ Academy squad on 29 November and Leeds Rhinos on 2 December before a two-Test series against England (6 and 12 December). They then head to France to tackle the under-19 and under-18 national squads (15 and 18 December). The two Cowboys will return to pre-season training in January.
• North Queensland are on the sixth line of betting for the 2015 NRL premiership with bet365.com.au. We’re at odds of $11 with the Rabbitohs favourites at $5.
• Cowboys assistant coach David Furner will be back at work for North Queensland next week after being part of the Kangaroos’ Four Nations campaign. Also returning will be physio Steve Sartori, who has been busy helping to keep the Australians’ best line-up on the field.
There’ll be another Insider pre-season edition next month.