After the Finals and the November 1 contract deadline, the NRL silly season is here. To bring you back to reality, Smart Signings dissects where clubs are struggling, where improvements are needed, and identifies realistic options. Instead of rumors, expect to see stats, profiles, and insights.
The conclusion of the 2022 season was tough for Cowboys fans. After an impressive performance the previous year, North Queensland could not keep up the momentum. Todd Payten led the team effectively in 2022 with his winning defensive strategies but the team lacked creativity and offensive capabilities needed for the 2023 season.
They struggled through the first half of the season with a 6-8 record. Despite a good comeback through Origin, it ultimately was not enough to secure a playoff spot. It was clear to see where the Cowboys were going wrong and also where they might improve. A major downfall was the loss of creative control that Chad Townsend provided. His absence and the dip in his performance led to the team’s offensive struggles. To restore their position in the competition, it is evident that changes are needed in the team lineup and strategies.
The November 1 club also called for evaluations regarding players’ potential contracts, with some players like Tom Dearden and Kulikefu Finefeauiaki worth keeping. They also have players like Luke Keary and Toby Sexton available for crucial positions. Coen Hess, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Zac Laybutt, Semi Valemei, and Tom Chester’s performance and potential make them valuable players as well.
There is potential for Payten to add a young or veteran player to the team roster to add the much-needed creativity and offensive strength. There are many options available, including Keary who offers more attacking prowess and experience and young Sexton who has shown strong creative and running abilities. Lewis Dodd is another promising candidate from the St Helens Saints team who has shown great talent and seems ready to compete in the NRL. The Cowboys and Payten have to carefully evaluate which player would best fit the team and help them rise once again in the competition.