McLean worth the wait for Cowboys
It took a year for North Queensland to find the right replacement for 2015 premiership-winning prop James Tamou and Cowboys coach Paul Green insists it will be worth the wait.
When former Storm prop Jordan McLean arrives in Townsville for pre-season training in the new year it will be on the back of a World Cup campaign with the Kangaroos and an NRL premiership.
The 26-year-old will be in his prime and is the style of front-rower Green wanted when Tamou left for Penrith at the end of the 2016 season.
The physical parallels between McLean and Tamou are uncanny. Both stand 196cm tall with McLean, at 115kg, just edging Tamou on the scales.
Both are awkward customers to handle and have ball skills which complement their size.
"When we lost Jimmy we wanted to make sure we didn't just sign anyone to replace him," Green told NRL.com.
"We didn't want to sign somebody just for the sake of it, and we felt Jordan fitted the bill really well as a really good replacement for Jimmy, albeit a year later.
"He has some family connections up here in North Queensland as well so it has worked out for both parties.
"What he brings to our side is a different body shape, which I like to have.
"He has that tall, rangy build, similar to Jimmy Tamou, and it is just a different thing for the opposition to have to deal with.
"I think his offload is something that has also developed really well.
"It is great for us with Jordan now getting that international experience too. It is only going to add to him as a player."
With McLean's arrival, Green will have far more options up front with veteran prop Matt Scott also returning from a knee injury.
The variety of styles showcased by the Cowboys props will make them a potent force. The team will also boast the no-nonsense approach of Scott Bolton and the dancing feet and silky skills of John Asiata.
Following the 2015 premiership win the Cowboys retained the 17 that won the title for the following season.
Once again, they have not been overly active in the player market with McLean the only one of the new recruits with significant NRL experience.
Star duo Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo have been developed in Townsville and retained, a pattern Green said would remain the club's ethos.
"We have had a focus on retention rather than recruitment and I think that has worked well for us," he said.
"We are a development club. If there is a lack in our team we will go to the market where we have to but we haven't had to do that too much.
"That allows you continuity, which is important."
First published on NRL.com.