Usually when the North Queensland Cowboys win games, it’s the Johnathan Thurston’s and Matt Bowen’s who get the accolades. But the Cowboys are a side with more than just a few international stars. They are a team filled with workaholics, fan favourites and cult heroes. In 2012, you can add Kane Linnett to that list.
Make no mistake about it, Linnett isn’t going to walk straight into the Cowboys three-quarter line. Brent Tate and Bowen have mortgages on their positions, while their depth chart suggests there will be a battle royal between Ash Graham, Antonio Winterstein, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Kyle Feldt and Linnett for the remainder of the backline spots.
But you would suspect that if Linnett is injury free and playing the footy he wants to play, he will start in Townsville.
Cowboys General Manager Peter Parr knows he has jagged one from the Sydney Roosters.
“With Willie Tonga leaving our club, we identified the centre/wing positions as one area we needed to look at” Parr said.
“We are very pleased that Kane has accepted our offer and will be a Cowboy from next year.
“He is a talented player in attack and also strong defensively.”
Parr’s comments make you wonder how or why the Roosters would ever let the Port Kembla product go.
After being snapped up from the St George Illawarra Dragons, Linnett became a starter in a very short amount of time at the Roosters. This was off course the season the Roosters made it all the way to the Grand Final. Linnett was named Roosters Rookie of the year.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall said this of Linnett in 2010.
“Yeah, a few of us boys had a look at Kane on the league analyser and were blown away by what he did last year (2009)” Kenny-Dowall concedes.
“His speed and footwork, incredible. But the longer you play alongside him, the more you notice, too. Like the way he defends for such a lean guy, it’s impressive.”
2011 saw the Roosters return to the wrong end of the table and Linnett was restricted to only 10 games due to injury.
So coach Brian Smith made some tough decisions. There would be no new contract offers for veterans Nate Myles and Jason Ryles, Mark Riddell and Daniel Conn retired midseason and bad boys Todd Carney and Anthony Watts were shown the door.
A nice little cleanout from Smith who probably saved his job in the process.
But in his infinite wisdom, Smith also let his 2010 Rookie of the year slip through his hands. Linnett is now heading North to ply his trade with the Cowboys.
It is hard to fathom that a former grand finalist and Rookie of the year can drop so far from a coaches view in such a short amount of time. But Smith believes Linnett wasn’t part of the Roosters plans going forward.
Linnett will shine just as brightly in Townsville as the tropical sun that he now lives under.
All the while, Brian Smith will battle the Sydney winter and the Sydney media yet again. I know who I would rather be.
This article was originally posted on thebigtip.com.au on the 21-11-11