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Justin O'Neill | Photo: Robb Cox © NRL Photos

Coming into his third season as a Cowboy, Hughenden product Justin O’Neill had every reason to be confident after a strong 2016 where he made his State of Origin debut for the Maroons and helped the Cowboys to the preliminary final.

But he suffered a couple of setbacks in the first half of the year, namely some niggly, short-term injuries, plus being omitted from Games II and III of the 2017 State of Origin Series.

Still, the 26-year-old rebounded and played well in the back half of the season until injury struck again, this time a dislocated elbow suffered in Round 23 against the Panthers. Fearing his season was over, O’Neill rehabbed well and made a successful return in Week 2 of the finals.

2017 STATS:

Played: 20
Tries: 1
Average run metres: 93
Average tackles: 12
Line breaks: 9
Tackle breaks: 40
Off the field: He and wife Chantelle love a day out at the races.