With the drugs scandal, Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Barba’s sudden fall dominating headlines, North Queensland Cowboys and their ongoing contract saga with captain Johnathan Thurston have fallen by the way side.
The Penrith Panthers are in attack position and ready to throw the biggest contract to any player in the history of the National Rugby League at the legendary Queensland playmaker.
Panthers General Manager is desperate to lure Thurston to the foot of the mountains.
While the days and weeks go by, Cowboys fans would be becoming increasingly alarmed by the lack of action from north of the border.
Despite claims from coach Neil Henry that Thurston will stay in Townsville, reports suggest a gargantuan $5.2 million deal has been tabled by Penrith.
North Queensland officials know, in their heart of hearts, that Thurston is seriously contemplating taking the offer. And who can blame him?
What place does loyalty have when Thurston has 5.2 million excuses to return to Sydney and finish his career in the famous black strip of the Panthers?
Coach Henry has been speaking to journalists a whole lot more than usual. It is obvious the Cowboys mentor is sweating the whole situation and is using the media to coax Thurston into staying at North Queensland.
“It’s obviously a massive offer from Penrith and they’ve been making things fairly attractive to him but we’re quietly confident that we’ll get it done,” Henry told NRL.com.
“I think we’ve got something quite special up here with this playing group and I think there is a sense of… they’re all mates and they’ve been together a long time.
“These guys are all JT’s mates, he is pretty settled up here and he has played his best football here so we’re pretty confident we can get him.”
The fact is, Thurston has turned the Cowboys into a rugby league powerhouse. Yet time and time again, the club has failed their leader. The pivot has done everything in his power to hand North Queensland a title.
These professional athletes are driven by premierships and anyone with the competitiveness of Thurston would be frustrated by the lack of silverware in Townsville.
A $5.2 million contract might be the final nail in the coffin for the Cowboys.
“We were quietly confident of getting the job done with Matty and Jimmy and we did, so hopefully that’s a sign of things to come,” Henry continued.
“Look, we’ve made the finals the past two years but we haven’t been in the top four – and it’s been proven that you need to be in the top four. The last seven years the premiers have come from the top two so we need to get up there and aim to be one of those teams to get the job done, but I think we’ve got the squad to do that.”
The optimistic coach knows his club has missed chances in the past. Thurston knows it too.
The last time Thurston tasted premiership success was in 2004 at the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The question is, if JT wins another title, will it be for the Cowboys or the Panthers?
Published on theroar.com.au