North Queensland Toyota Cowboys life member and two-time Paul Bowman medallist Aaron Payne has been appointed coach of the club’s National Youth Competition team for the 2016 season.
After three years as a junior coach – the last two in charge of Cowboys’ Academy program – Payne has excelled as an emerging rugby league mentor since his retirement from playing in 2012. Of the new additions to this year’s NYC team, 12 have come through the club’s Academy program, which has squads in Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Brisbane.
In overseeing the Cowboys’ academy program, Payne’s charges have played in numerous champion teams in recent years, including:
- 2014 Northern Pride U16s – QLD Champions;
- 2015 Townsville Stingers u18s – QLD Champions
- 2015 Capricornia Open Schoolboys – QLD Champions
Many players in these teams will now have a big presence in the Cowboys’ NYC squad in 2016.
Payne, a hooker, is a veteran of 219 NRL games for the Cowboys across 11 seasons (2002-12) and was named the club’s best player in 2006 and 2008. Payne’s second Paul Bowman Medal was part of a clean sweep of honours as he was also awarded Players’ Player and Club Person of the Year honours in that year.
Cowboys Elite Pathways Manager Micheal Luck said Payne had proven himself a talented emerging coach during the past three years, and his experience within the Cowboy’s development program made him the right man to replace outgoing coach Todd Payten, who will be one of Cowboys head coach Paul Green’s assistants in the National Rugby league squad.
“Aaron is the ideal candidate to continue the good work Todd did with the NYC boys in the 2015 season, where the team narrowly missed out on making the grand final,” Luck said. “He’s enthusiastic, has a great football brain from years of playing at a high level in a key position; and has a proven ability to nurture and develop emerging talent.”
Payne said he was thrilled to be able to continue his coaching journey at the Cowboys.
“I’m really looking forward to this new challenge of my coaching career, especially given it’s at the club I have proudly been involved with since I was a teenager,” he said.
Payne began his new role this week as the 2016 NYC squad assembled for assessment and the start of pre-season training.