• A big congratulations to North Queensland Toyota Cowboys Spirit cheerleader Zahnee Stout who has won through to the final of Big League’s Cheerleader of the Year competition. Zahnee, 21, received the most votes when she went head-to-head with Eels cheerleader Maddy in last week’s second-stage round of voting. Cheerleaders from the Raiders and the Titans have also progressed to the final, with four more spots to be filled in the coming weeks. Zahnee will now vie for public votes against cheerleaders from six other NRL clubs from 8 August.
• New Cowboys CEO Greg Tonner was introduced to the North Queensland community via the media this week. Affable and enthusiastic, Tonner answered questions at an open press call, posed for photos and vision and did two longer interviews with newspaper journos. It was during a chat with the Courier-Mail’s Paul Malone that Tonner showed a self-deprecating sense of humour. Saying, on the record, that he had `big ears’, Tonner said he fitted in perfectly with one of his earlier employers, Walt Disney, whose iconic Micky Mouse is known for his large ears.
• The Cowboys’ draw for rounds 21-26 has been released, with most of the talk focusing on the Cowboys’ Thursday night home clash against the Rabbitohs. Acknowledging that, logistically, some Cowboys’ members and fans would find it a challenge to get to the game, Tonner remained buoyant about the NRL blockbuster and issued a rallying call for plenty of support at the blockbuster on 13 August. “What a great showcase of rugby league this match will be,” Tonner said during the week. “I can’t wait to see 1300SMILES stadium awash with colour and noise. It’ll be a fantastic night of NRL footy.”
• Cowboys prop Ben Hannant and wife Emma welcomed their sixth child this week. Their son was born on the Gold Coast and both he and Emma are doing well. He's a little brother for Kye, Ella, Mia, Brax and Ava. Hannant is expected to take his place in the Cowboys’ lineup against the Dragons at WIN Stadium this weekend.
• Legendary boxing trainer Johnny Lewis dropped into Cowboys HQ this week to watch the team train. Lewis, 81, is an Australian Boxing Hall of Fame inductee and has worked with six Australian world champions, including Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu. Lewis and Cowboys coach Paul Green have a long association, with Green bringing him in to talk to the team last year.
• Talented North Queensland basketballers Alicia Froling and Keely Froling have been training hard at Cowboys HQ in recent weeks, but with very different goals in mind. The identical twins have been playing college hoops in the US, but have returned to Australia over the American summer. Keely is working closely with Cowboys physio Steve Sartori to rehabilitate from a serious knee injury while Alicia has made the Australian under-20 women’s team to play in the world championships in Russia. Alicia leaves for a training camp in Europe this week, but has being doing fitness and strength training at the Cowboys. Both young women praised the Cowboys for helping them keep on top of their game.