North Queensland Toyota Cowboys CEO Greg Tonner has urged existing and potential members to join the Cowboys family for 2018 on the back of the official National Rugby League draw release for the new season.

VIEW >> 2018 NRL DRAW

Kicking off at home with a Round 1 Friday night (March 9) blockbuster against the Cronulla Sharks – who have bundled each other out of the competition in the past two finals series – the Cowboys’ exciting 12-game program of matches at 1300SMILES stadium promises to whet the appetite of rugby league fans throughout the region.

“We had a fantastic season in 2017 in terms of on-field performance and in membership with 22,000-plus people being part of the Cowboys family,” Mr Tonner said.

“We aim to make 2018 even bigger and now that the new draw has been released early, families can plan their year out. The best way to experience the thrill of a Cowboys home game is to become a full-season ticketed member.

“You’ll get your same seat at 1300SMILES Stadium week-in, week-out, you can upgrade your existing season tickets, and you can plan your fabulous footy year with your family and friends.

“To those existing members, thank you for your passion and support; and to anyone keen to join in the excitement and passion of being a Cowboys member, we welcome you to our family.”

The revamped draw will see all teams play 24 games – 12 home and 12 away – but the season will be played over 25 rounds, not 26 as in previous years. All teams get one bye, with all teams having the whole weekend off around State of Origin II (Sunday, June 24), which will be a stand-alone fixture that weekend.

Of the 12 Cowboys homes, five will be on the club’s preferred timeslot of a Saturday, five on a Friday night and two Thursday night blockbusters are scheduled, including a showdown with great Queensland rival Brisbane Broncos (Round 22, August 9).

“We’re acutely aware that many of our faithful members and fans travel to our matches; that’s why we love Saturday games up here,” Mr Tonner said.

“We’ve worked really hard with the NRL to get as many matches as possible on a Saturday."

“While we would have loved more than five, we know that if our valued members and fans are able to find a way to make it to these Thursday and Friday matches, they’ll be guaranteed a memorable experience.”

Mr Tonner also urged the public to get behind co-captain Johnathan Thurston, who will return to the field in 2018 for what is likely to be his farewell season.

“JT is on 299 NRL games and is tied with Matt Bowen as our most capped Cowboy (270 games) – how amazing would it be to have a packed house in Round 1 to celebrate these potential milestones together,” he said.

Other highlights of the Cowboys 2018 home draw include:

  • Awesome April: Come down with a case of Cowboys fever with three consecutive Saturday home games, against the Bulldogs (April 14), the Titans (April 21) and the Raiders (April 28).
  • Bunny blockbuster: We host the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the family friendly 5.30pm timeslot on Saturday, May 19.
  • Storm warning: The reigning NRL premiers travel north for a Round 12 grand final rematch on Friday, May 25 on Friday, May 25.
  • Finish with a bang: We host the Parramatta Eels in Round 24 (Friday, August 24) to round out our regular season home games.

On the road, the Cowboys will, for the third straight year, travel to Cairns’ Barlow Park to take on the Rabbitohs in that club’s annual “home” game (Sunday, July 1).

The Cowboys will get a nice mid-season reprieve around Origin 2, with that whole-of-competition rest weekend coming just two weeks before their scheduled bye (Round 17, Thursday July 5-Sunday, July 8).