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Cowboys launch new agreement with Pride

It’s been the breeding ground of some of the greatest Cowboys and now Far North Queensland’s pathway to the NRL has been strengthened through a new agreement struck between the Cowboys and the Northern Pride.

Four Pride players will begin pre-season alongside the Cowboys NRL squad today on a training block which runs through until Christmas.

Pride coach Eric Smith and his staff will spend time working alongside Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten in the pre-season as well as receiving additional professional development opportunities through the season.

Half of the Cowboys NRL squad will be allocated to the Pride, strengthening an already impressive squad which qualified for the finals in the Queensland Cup in 2023.

The Cowboys have also pledged additional financial support for the Pride and in turn rugby league in Far North Queensland.

The Pride will play one home game at Queensland Country Bank Stadium prior to a Cowboys NRL game in 2024.

“We are thrilled to reach this new and expanded agreement with the Pride,” Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel said.

“Throughout the entire process, the Pride have been committed to reaching a deal which was in the best interests of both clubs as well as rugby league in Far North Queensland.”

Luck: This is what our club was set up for

Cowboys General Manager of Football Micheal Luck said Far North Queensland had been crucial to the success of the club.

“Far North Queensland isn’t just one of the best rugby league nurseries in our region, it’s one of the best in the country,” he said.

“From players in the calibre of Matt Bowen, Ty Williams and Scott Bolton through to two of the best young second rowers in the competition currently in Jeremiah Nanai and Heilum Luki, our club has been the beneficiary of the substantial amount of top-level talent to come out of FNQ.

“Eric Smith has an impressive coaching pedigree and we’re excited to see the influence he and his staff have on our fringe first graders playing for the Pride in the Queensland Cup.”

Pride Chairman Nigel Tillett said the new agreement would benefit far more than just the on-field results of the Pride.

“We see this agreement with the Cowboys as hugely important, not just for the Pride, but for rugby league in the Far North as a whole,” he said.

“This arrangement means a lot to our players and sponsors and I believe the process has strengthened our relationship, because we feel like a genuine partner with the Cowboys.

“We see our role as a pathway to the NRL through the Cowboys. We all live in North Queensland and we all need to work together for the betterment of rugby league in our region and we do that by ensuring our talent stays here.”

Pride CEO Garreth Smith said solidifying pathways for FNQ players was pivotal to the Pride’s discussions with the Cowboys.

“The most important aspect for us as a club is that every Far North Queensland kid has the opportunity at NRL level. That is why this affiliation is so important to the Pride, because it ties together the pathways of what we believe our club should represent,” he said.

“The access to the resources the Cowboys have at their disposal is also important as it allows development opportunities for our staff and players.

“We’re looking forward to having Cowboys players suiting up for us again from next year. It obviously helps in terms of team performance, but it’s also good for our players to be near full-time professional athletes and align their aspirations with where those guys are.”

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.