The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys will return to Mackay in 2019 after today announcing a trial match with 2018 grand finalists the Melbourne Storm on Saturday, March 2.
Star Cowboys recruit and Mackay product Ben Barba and Cowboys Football Operations Manager Glenn Hall joined Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson and Mackay Cutters CEO Troy Rovelli to launch the trial at BB Print Stadium.
"The Mackay region is an extremely important part of the Cowboys' footprint on the rugby league landscape in North Queensland. We are thrilled to be able to play a trial against such a high-quality opposition in front of our Cowboys faithful in Mackay next season," Hall said.
BB Print Stadium is home to Cowboys feeder club the Mackay Cutters, who will take on a yet to be announced Queensland Cup side in a curtain raiser match preceding the Cowboys' NRL trial against the Storm.
A women's clash will also be held earlier in the day, capping off an action-packed day of rugby league.
The Mackay region has produced a number of Cowboys club legends including 2005 grand final skipper Travis Norton and long-time centre and current assistant coach Josh Hannay.
Current NRL squad members Barba, Mitchell Dunn, Shane Wright and Kurt Wiltshire also played large chunks of their junior football in the region.
North Queensland will be hoping to treat Mackay fans to a similar spectacle to the last time they played at the ground. In a 2017 trial against the Roosters, Kyle Laybutt kicked a last-minute field goal to hand the Cowboys a thrilling 11-10 victory, sending the sold-out crowd into a frenzy.
"The Mackay Cutters, being a Cowboys feeder club, and the Mackay region are extremely important to the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys," Cowboys Acting CEO Jeff Reibel said.
"The region is home to a huge number of passionate Cowboy members and fans and has been a breeding ground of many club legends.
"To be able to travel to Mackay and put on a high-quality trial against our great rivals the Storm is something we are extremely excited about."
Cutters CEO Troy Rovelli said he expects fans from across the region to throw their support behind the Cowboys.
"We know the people of Mackay love the Cowboys, they'll embrace this match and we look forward to packing out our stadium come March 2," he said.
Ticketing information for the match will be released at a later date.