NORTH Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston has capped a stellar year – one which netted the club its maiden National Rugby League premiership – by winning his fourth Paul Bowman Medal as the club’s best player.
Thurston received the award – adding to the ones he received in 2005, 2012 and 2014 – at the club’s annual presentation ball at The Ville last week in front of over 700 guests.
Thurston kicked the winning extra-time field goal in the Cowboys’ stirring 17-16 grand final win over the Brisbane Broncos at ANZ Stadium on October 4, and he also started the movement which led to Kyle Feldt’s match-tying try in the 80th minute of regulation time in what has been hailed as the greatest grand final in NRL history.
Thurston finished the voting on 22 points, narrowly edging out teammates Jake Granville and Gavin Cooper, who were tied on 21 points. Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis by Cowboys’ coaching staff for each game, including finals.
Named in honour of the club’s inaugural life member, the Paul Bowman Medal honours the Cowboys’ Players of the Year, with Thurston also winning his fourth Dally M Medal – given to the NRL’s best player – just over a week before the club award.
Granville did not go home empty-handed, the lively hooker winning the peer-voted Players’ Player of the Year award, registering 22 votes, four clear of fullback Lachlan Coote.
The central Queensland product was a pivotal part of the Cowboys’ successful premiership tilt and revelled around the ruck behind a dominant forward pack.
Thurston’s fellow skipper, prop Matt Scott, was also recognised on the night, becoming the club’s sixth life member – following Bowman, Barry Buchanan, Matthew Bowen, Aaron Payne and Thurston – after achieving the 200-game milestone during the year.
Also honoured was retiring forward Glenn Hall, who was named the Club Person of the Year following five years of selfless service to the club, including being a key members of head coach Paul Green’s player leadership group.
Classy centre Justin O’Neill won the Townsville Bulletin Most Improved Cowboy award following an impressive opening season at the club, while boom teenager Coen Hess was named Rookie of the Year.
Hess’s under-20s teammate Andrew Niemoeller was named National Youth Competition Player of the Year to round out the awards as the club put the icing on its most successful season, which saw it claim a maiden club championship and the NYC team go within one win of the grand final in that competition.