North Queensland Cowboys 2024 season preview

North Queensland Cowboys 2024 season preview

2023 recap

The Cowboys came within a whisker of making the Grand Final in 2022, but in 2023 they came back down to earth with a bump. Eight defeats in their opening 13 games left them up against it, but a six-game winning run later in the year gave them a shot at finals footy. Ultimately, they were still in with a chance going into the final game of the regular season, where they needed to win at Penrith, but a 44-12 defeat meant the Cowboys fell just short.

2023 position: 9th

Key signings

Jake Clifford (Hull FC), Thomas Mikaele (Warrington Wolves), D’Jazirhae Pua’Avase (Townsville Blackhawks), Viliami Vailea (New Zealand Warriors)

Key departures

Peta Hiku (Hull Kingston Rovers), Sylvester Namo (Castleford Tigers), Riley Price (Penrith Panthers), James Tamou (retired)

Players to watch

Jake Clifford is back in the NRL after a year-long stint in Super League, and he’ll be hoping to play his way into the halves this year. Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend will probably be the first-choice pairing to start the year, but with Dearden likely to play Origin and Townsend well into his thirties, Clifford should get some chances to impress and earn himself an extension to his one-year deal, or put himself in the shop window at least.

Jeremiah Nanai burst onto the scene in 2022, picking up the Dally M Rookie of the Year award and the Dally M Second Rower of the Year, as well as earning a place in the Kangaroos’ World Cup squad. 2023 was a much quieter one for the 20-year-old, who only played 13 times through a combination of suspension, injury and an Origin call-up. Expect Nanai to come back with a bit of a bang in 2024.

Young gun

D’Jazirhae Pua’avase has joined the Cowboys’ top 30 for the new season, and the 20-year-old second rower already has two years of Queensland Cup experience under his belt, so don’t be surprised to see him get a call-up at some point in 2024.

Our prediction – 11th

On paper, the Cowboys have a pretty strong side and I rarely bet against them when they’re playing up in Townsville. However, I just have a niggling doubt that their strong campaign in 2022 was a one-off, and although I don’t think they’ll be a million miles away from the top eight, I’m not expecting them to crack it either.

Darren Notley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *