Last year a question was asked... �Will the next �sleeping giant� of the NRL wake up?�, not just by me, but by many other Rugby League supporters. We were referring to the usually forgotten Queensland club, North Qld Cowboys.
In my opinion, the North Queensland Cowboys are still the next sleeping giants ready to be awoken in the competition. With the vast talent they have in the junior leagues in Queensland and the talent purchased from other clubs, North Queensland certainly look like the dark horses of 2004.
The Cowboys, since entering the competition, have been living in the shadow of Brisbane. It is undisputed that Broncos are the best team in Queensland, thus far. Whilst the Cowboys are usually forgotten about in the Brisbane region they have a huge supporter base in Townsville, despite the team's poor form. I feel that when the Cowboys do get competitive, people will finally realise that the Broncos aren't the only Queensland side in the NRL competition, and the Cowboys will get the recognition they deserve and have craved for many years, they have finally gotten a TV game since 1995, on channel 9 (Round 25 v Wests Tigers, who are also another top 8 contender), but there will be more to come.
N Qld have fought through controversy, with many believing they should not be in the competition, but this year they are starting to prove their critics wrong, by challenging for a top 8 spot (currently in 6th), whereas last year at the same point of the season, the cowboys were around 10th.
North Queensland fans will be starting to think that 2004 could be that year. During the course of the past few years they have signed good players and for next season they have strengthened their squad with the signings of Carl Webb from Brisbane and Jonathon Thurston from Cantebury joining the solid players such as Matty Bowen, who played for QLD in this years State Of Origin, Kevin Campion who has been playing well this year, former Bulldog Travis Norton.
So, not only that the Cowboys look dangerous for the remainder of 2004, but they�ll have basically the same squad for 2005, which, well no one knows what�ll happen then.
We remember the Cowboys in 2003 with their World Sevens Bowl win against Fiji, during that tournament, The Cowboys pushed Cronulla and the eventual 2003 Plate winners The Bulldogs to the limit, losing narrowly in both games, and alot of promising performances in the season. This gave their supporters something to cheer about, but that was last year. This year will be different, the top 8 finals are a different game to the World Sevens and the Round by Round of the NRL, where any team in the top 8 can be the Premiers, and if N Qld get there, who knows what may happen along the road.
For me personally, I hope the Cowboys make the finals for 2004. It'll be rewarding for their long-suffering fans that haven't really celebrated anything since the World Sevens in 2003. North Queensland has the team and talent to be competitive in 2004 and always show lots of spirit and pride when they play their games.
Will we see North Queensland as one of the top 8 finalist, instead of the usual Brisbane, Sydney, Cantebury etc. Let�s hope so, if Penrith could do it in 2003, i cant see why not the Cowboys (or any other team in that manner) can do it this time around
The eyes have opened, the rumblings have began.