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Cowboys 2023 NRL squad analysis - halves are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2023 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the halves including co-captain Chad Townsend and Maroons star Tom Dearden.

The players are ranked by their NRL experience with their career numbers of games in brackets next to their name.

>>> Part 1: Fullback

>>> Part 2: Centre/wing

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Chad Townsend (218)

Arguably the buy of the 2022 season, Townsend’s professionalism off the field and in-game direction was one of the most crucial driving factors behind the Cowboys’ rapid rise. In the second season of a three-year deal, Townsend again shapes as one of the most important figures in 2023.

Ben Hampton (116)

After playing almost every position on the field through the first eight seasons of his career, Hampton has moved almost exclusively to the halves over the previous two seasons. The 30-year-old shapes as the top back-up to Townsend and Tom Dearden in 2023.

Tom Dearden (57)

Dearden enjoyed a remarkable 2022 season. The 21-year-old was one of the most improved players in the NRL, going from a pre-season battle with Scott Drinkwater just to make the Round 1 side to Queensland State of Origin five-eighth in the series deciding victory in July. Locked in as Chad Townsend’s halves partner for Round 1.

Jake Bourke (0)

Elevated to the Top 30 in 2023, Bourke has come through the Cowboys Townsville Academy. A crafty halfback, Bourke received his first taste of Queensland Cup last season and will look to solidify a position at that level to begin 2023.

Tom Duffy (0)

Another Townsville local, Duffy was named Australian Schoolboys halfback in 2021 after an outstanding campaign with Ignatius Park College. Still just 19, Duffy will be looking to make a Queensland Cup debut in 2023.

>>> Cowboys full squad for 2023

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.