By all accounts, rep weekend for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys was a roaring success. The club had a total of 13 players involved in the weekend, including in the Trans-Tasman Test, the Tonga v Samoa clash, Junior Kangaroos v Junior Kiwis, City-Country and the Residents’ match. Samoan interchange forward John Asiata described the feature match at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium on Saturday as a 'brutal' affair with players from both sides determined to put big shots on their counterparts. Asiata said both sides were full of passion and pride in wearing their national jumper, and the speed out of both defence lines was a sight to behold. Opposing centres Kirisome Auva’a and Solomone Kata seemed to be on personal seek-and-destroy missions on each other, a rivalry that came to a head when Kata raised his knee and Avua’a retaliated by throwing the footy at Kata’s head. Sanity prevailed and the players got back down to the business of playing footy, with the Samoan team prevailing 18-6 in the bruising encounter.
Also flying the Cowboys colours in rep round was physio Steve Sartori and medico Dr Chris Ball. Both men were working with the Kangaroos in their respective club roles, positions they have filled previously. One of the best sports physios in the country, Sartori is well-respected in the NRL, but he wasn’t exactly flying around the Hunter Stadium turf on Friday night. Sporting a noticeable limp, Sartori injured himself running that very morning. It seems narrow road verges, large rocks and sharp declines don’t mix and the long-time Cowboys staffer took a heavy tumble. But, showing tremendous grit despite having more than a little bark off him, Sartori bounced back with aplomb for Friday’s game.
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston is on track to bring up his 250th NRL game as a Cowboy when NQ host the Brisbane Broncos in Round 11 on Friday 20 May. Playing in his 12th season at the Cowboys, Thurston currently sits at 248 games for NQ heading into this weekend’s Round 10 match against the Storm. After that, the 33-year-old maestro is set to bring up his milestone game in front of the blue-and-grey army against the Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium. Thurston is already the second-most capped Cowboy, behind Matthew Bowen (270 NRL and Cowboys games), and has played 277 NRL games in total.
Test debutante Michael Morgan made the day (and probably the year) of a bunch of staffers’ children this week when he donated a brand-new suite of NRL collectors’ cards he brought home with him from the Kangaroos’ camp this week. Morgan gifted the cards to a staff member who distributed them amongst colleagues with young footy-loving children.
Confusion reigned supreme this week when the Fox Sports NRL crew made a request for Cowboys head coach Paul Green to participate in the pre-game show for Saturday’s NRL double-header at Suncorp Stadium. Fox initially wanted Green to be interviewed about how to stop Brisbane playmaker Anthony Milford. Trouble is, the Cowboys are playing the Storm, but in Brisbane, hence the confusion. Once everyone was on the same page, a couple of Melbourne players were earmarked for analysis and the planets were aligned once more. The Broncos host the Manly Sea Eagles in the second game of the double-header.
Cowboys HQ welcomed a group of Year 8 students this week for a Catholic Education Indigenous careers aspiration tour – schools represented were Columba Catholic College (Charters Towers) and St Anthony’s, Ignatius Park, Ryan and Southern Cross Catholic Colleges (Townsville). Community relations coordinator and debonair host Bruce Muller gave an overview of the club's structure, roles and personnel, with the students split into two groups across the club's and neighbour Stadiums Queensland's facilities. The visit was a success on all accounts, with talk of making it an annual event.
Good to see former Cowboy Matt Wright still enjoying his footy. Having made the move recently to Manly, Wright was selected on the wing for Samoa in the Pacific Test double-header at Pirtek Stadium, the Sydney product scoring a try. His fellow Samoan winger was old Cowboys teammate Antonio Winterstein.
It's fundraising season again for the Cowboys Gift Fund, formerly the Cowboys Community Fund. On top of a generous donation of $10,000 from Coca-Cola Amatil in March, $12 from each sale of the 2016 | 2017 Entertainment™ Membership will go back to the Gift Fund to support their work in improving the quality of life for young North Queenslanders. Get yours: entertainmentbook.com.au.