So, who’ll get to 2,000 first? The race to 2,000 career points for Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston and his great mate Cam Smith turned a little anti-climactic last weekend as both fell short of making the mark while leading their teams to tight Round 1 wins.
Smith went into the Storm’s clash with the Bulldogs needing seven points to become just the fifth ever player to make 2,000, but the veteran No.9 kicked just two goals in his side’s 12-6 win over Canterbury.
So Smith sits on 1,997 points, while Thurston is on a tantalising 1,999 after kicking two from four in the Cowboys’ 20-16 win over the Raiders.
The champion No.7 has been bantering with Smith all week and revealed that he cheekily asked referee Ben Cummins if he could have a crack at goal after Gavin Cooper’s golden-point try that sealed the win. Cummins correctly ruled that the try ended the contest as golden point is the first scoring play in extra time decides the game. Nice try JT.
The rub to all of this is that Smith gets first crack at the record with the Storm playing the Warriors immediately before the Broncos host the Cowboys. Don’t get the wobbles Smithy!
Cowboys second-rower Ethan Lowe reflected on Saturday’s win over the Raiders during mid-week media, but it was his description of a certain bone-jarring play he was involved in that drew laughs.
Lowe was crunched by 122kg Canberra behemoth Shannon Boyd in the first half. Boyd hit Lowe front on in a high-impact tackle that had most of the 17,000-plus crowd at 1300SMILES Stadium wincing. Lowe reckoned that he didn’t see Boyd approaching and, all of a sudden, “the sun went out”.
Lowe – as tough as they come – got straight back up and continued to plug away at Canberra’s defensive line.
Wednesday’s official opening of NRL Cowboys House – a purpose-built boarding facility for boys from remote Indigenous communities attending school in Townsville – was a huge success as the club, charity partners, the private sector and all levels of government came together to unveil the impressive facility.
Even more impressive were the welcome speeches by three house boarders, whose polished, practised and heartfelt speeches drew warm and deserving applause.
Cowboys co-captain and House ambassador Johnathan Thurston was heard commenting after the speeches: “How good were the kids’ speeches”. It was a nice moment in what is shaping as the feel-good off-field story of 2017.
The Cowboys’ depth is being tested in the early part of the season, with a number of squad members currently rehabbing from long-term injuries.
Hooker Josh Chudleigh and centre Shaun Hudson are out for the season with serious knee injuries. Hudson had surgery last week and is into rehab, while Chudleigh is progressing well under the watchful eye of club physio Steve Sartori.
Elsewhere, young back-rower Shane Wright is recovering from a broken jaw and should return to playing by month’s end, while utility Ray Thompson and half Kyle Laybutt have knee injuries that will keep them out for several weeks.
Head coach Paul Green commented on the injuries mid-week, saying that even though the 17 who played the Raiders in the NRL season opener recovered well, any more injuries across the squad would be a challenge.
Young flyer Gideon Gela-Mosby – in his first year as a full-time NRL squad member – was impressive for the Northern Pride in the Queensland Cup last weekend, the Torres Strait product scoring a double in the team’s 24-4 win over fellow Cowboys feeder team, Mackay Cutters. One of the tries was a 100m effort showcasing his raw speed as he got the early overlap on a carry. Check out the try on Twitter @nthqldcowboys.
Fun fact: There are two Shauns, two Patricks, two Kyles and two Bens in our 2017 NRL squad. Can you name them all without cheating? Go to Twitter @nthqldcowboys to have a crack.