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Cowboys 2024 NRL squad analysis - outside backs are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2024 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the outside backs headlined by international stars Valentine Holmes and Murray Taulagi

>>> Part 1: Fullback

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

Kyle Feldt (192) 

One of the greatest outside backs in Cowboys history, Feldt is closing in on two major milestones. Feldt needs just three tries to break Matt Bowen’s club record of 130. The 31-year-old is also eight games short of 200 Cowboys appearances, which triggers automatic life membership. 

Valentine Holmes (179) 

Entrenched as one of the top centres in the NRL, Holmes continues to be one of the main focal points of the Cowboys’ attack. In just four seasons, Holmes has already moved into third for the most points in Cowboys history with 605, trailing just Johnathan Thurston (2,196) and Josh Hannay (882). 

Murray Taulagi (75) 

A Queensland State of Origin incumbent and a Test representative for both Australia and Samoa, Taulagi has made the left wing spot his own over the previous three seasons. Taulagi has formed a lethal left-edge combination with Valentine Holmes, but he could also shape an outside chance to spend time at centre in 2024. 

Semi Valemei (38) 

Became an instant fan favourite upon his arrival from the Raiders mid-season in 2023 courtesy of a hat-trick on debut against the Storm. Fearless with the ball in hand, Valemei finished with six tries in his nine games for the Cowboys in his maiden season in North Queensland. The 24-year-old will be in competition with Feldt for a Round 1 wing spot. 

Viliami Vailea (17) 

Recruited from the Warriors, Vailea is the leading contender to fill the centre spot vacated by Peta Hiku. Still just 21, Vailea enters his fourth season of NRL in 2024. An imposing outside back from Tonga, Vailea possesses impressive footwork to couple with a powerful carry.  

Zac Laybutt (4) 

Recently inked to a one-year extension, Laybutt is firmly in the mix for the vacant centre spot. The 21-year-old scored three tries in four games during his debut season. A skillful centre, who grew up playing in the halves, Laybutt made three appearances for PNG following the season, including the Pacific Bowl final victory over Fiji.  

Rob Derby (1) 

Derby was sensational on NRL debut in Round 13, but a leg injury sustained in that game meant it was his only top-grade appearance of the season. A hulking winger also blessed with speed, Derby has scored 20 tries in 32 Queensland Cup games over two seasons. The Cairns product has registered four appearances at international level for PNG, including the 2023 Pacific Bowl victory over Fiji. 

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.