The Set Of Six: Mediocre NRL Players – North Queensland Cowboys
This is the penultimate SET OF SIX. Yep, I’m almost done.
Today we cover some rather heavy hitters, in that except for the mediocre Broncos pairing of David Stagg and Darius Boyd from my very first list, I do not believe two Premiership winners have made it into a SET OF SIX.
Although I could very well be wrong, because I was one of those NSW fans who emphatically declared “Game Over” when the Blues were up 10-0 in Game 1 SOO. So clearly, I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
Since winning their maiden title in 2015, the Cowboys have been a rather anticlimactic club. Sure they went on a remarkable run to the GF without Jonathan Thurston in 2017, but otherwise they’ve been shooting blanks.
I mean what sort of team loses its first game at their brand new stadium, especially when playing the arch rivals?
I’ll tell you who, the Cowboys, and this is NOT where the recent mediocrity stops.
Ben Jones (2011-2012) – 8 Games, 3 Tries
There are more freckles on the face of Ben Jones, than the number of memorable NRL appearances.
Blessed with blinding red hair and a can do attitude, Indigenous All Stars representative Ben Jones was thrown way in the deep end during his Cowboys stint, most notably filling the halfback void left by Jonathan Thurston for three games in 2011.
As Brad Pitt’s character famously said in the 2011 film ‘Moneyball’...
“There are rich teams, and there are poor teams”
“Then there’s 50 feet of crap”
“And then there’s us”
Sub out the word ‘teams’ for ‘halfbacks’, and you have my basic opinion of that coaching decision.
In actuality, Jones didn’t do too bad, winning 2/3 of his games in the heralded Number 7 North Queensland jersey.
He did himself no disgrace and good on him.
But sorry Ben, you were still shit.
Robert Lui (2012-2015) – 46 Games, 13 Tries, 5 Goals
Staying on the halfback crusade, I mean when JT is your half for the majority of the decade, anyone else to where that jersey was always doomed.
All things considered, Robert Lui was a pretty decent player. He was involved in some big moments, in some massive games during his NRL career. However, Lui stands out as a mediocre Cowboy for one particular reason though.
It was his forearm, which caused the knock-on in the dying stages of NQ’s 2014 Semi-Final loss against the Roosters.
Let me set the scene.
The Cowboys are down 31-30, keeping in mind it was initially 30-0 to Easts earlier, and Kyle Feldt made a break in the 79th minute. He passes infield to Lui, who doesn’t catch the ball but dubiously knocks in on. Thurston picks it up and scores but it is ruled no try, and the fairy-tale ended in tears once again.
After the rotten luck NQ had already suffered in years past, they really didn’t deserve this. It’s an unfortunate legacy for Robert Lui in the NRL.
Shane Wright (2017-) 25 Games, 2 Tries
This is how I feel every time is see Shane Wright dawdle into a defensive line when making a ‘hit-up’, if you can call it that. He just puts me to sleep.
I like to remember him as that Cowboys guy that Jorge Taufua F**KED UP, in one of the most stomach churning massacres (sorry I mean tackles) you are ever destined to see. Seriously, watch it it’s so good.
Shane Wright might be the Rugby League equivalent of watching paint dry, yet still he owns a piece of admittedly cool NRL history.
Wright scored the final try at Townsville’s 1300 Smiles Stadium, formerly known as Dairy Farmers Stadium, in the Cowboys’ 15-8 win over Canterbury in Round 24, 2019. That is mantelpiece worthy.
Javid Bowen (2016-2019) – 36 Games, 10 Tries
If Matt Bowen was the Rugby League embodiment of bright, succulent, juicy orange mangoes...That got weird quick – then his nephew Javid must assume the form of a sour green mango.
Truth be told, there was a ton of pressure on Javid Bowen when he made the jump to first grade NRL in 2016. After all, his uncle Matt is perhaps a Mt. Rushmore level Aboriginal star, as the diminutive but skilfully flashy Bowen forged a legacy as one of Townsville’s greatest sons during his career.
I honestly wouldn’t wish the challenge on my worst enemy, and naturally Javid succumbed to the pressure and made very little of himself over 4 years in the Cowboys NRL side.
The Cowboys were at a crossroads heading into 2020, and they had to shed some dead weight. Unfortunately, Javid was one to be let go, and if Paul Green wasn’t willing to resign a guy when fighting to save his job, that probably tells you all you need to know.
Kane Linnett (2012-2018) – 164 Games, 53 Tries
Woah what is Shrek’s cousin doing playing NRL?
That is the question I would ask myself every time Kane Linnett ran onto an NRL field.
The second coming of Mark O’Meley, Linnett preferred to strike fear in those who looked him dead in the eye, or ugly chin, as opposed to opposite centres.
It would surprise me if this bloke ever made a line break, because as perhaps the slowest centre of all-time, I don’t think he was actually fast enough to break a defensive line.
Yet unbelievably, Kane Linnett once made an Auckland Nines Team Of The Tournament (2014). In a tournament designed to showcase the NRL’s brightest and most brilliant skilful speedsters, 105kg centre Kane Linnett made the cut. How did the Rugby League gods let that happen?
I want a detailed answer in writing to be waiting for me when I go to heaven.
Lachlan Coote (2014-2018) – 83 Games, 15 Tries, 4 Field Goals
Is there anything sexier in sport than a lefty?
The cover drive of Mike Hussey, the forehand of Rafael Nadal or the pitching wedge of Phil Mickelson, all leave right-handed sports fans chomping at the bit wishing they had the ability to go rogue and become a lefty.
Lachlan Coote was in no ways a sexy lefty, but he tried his best.
Coote was a somewhat decent left-foot field goal sniper in his day for North Queensland. Being second to JT in the line of field goal options is no lean feet, but props to Coote, he did a good job when called upon.
Coote is a famous name in the Rugby League world, and despite sharing no relation to the legendary Ron, Lachlan still did a shoddy job of honouring his Team of the Century namesake during his 11 year NRL career.
You can’t say I’m not honest.
Did we miss anyone out?
Who would be in your Mediocre Cowboys Set of Six?
Last but not least…. THE EYE OF THE TIGER
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