Coach Paul Green is confident the Cowboys Auckland Nines win can carry over into success in the NRL season proper.
New North Queensland coach Paul Green is hopeful the confidence gained from the Cowboys first ever title win at the NRL Nines can spill over into the season proper.
Last season under Neil Henry the Cowboys were one of the big disappointments despite making the finals.
But an impressive performance at the shortform event in their first official outing under Green is sure to buoy hopes of a better season in 2014, given the Cowboys star-studded line-up has remained largely together.
“Hopefully we can use this as a springboard into the season proper,” Green said after the Cowboys’ 16-7 win over Brisbane in the final, which earned them a $370,000 winners cheque.
“We brought most of our same structures here so that should give us some confidence and belief moving forward.”
However Green conceded a season-ending injury to fullback Lachlan Coote took some of the gloss over the Cowboys’ win.
A key off-season recruit Coote suffered a ruptured ACL on Saturday.
“It’s a terrible thing for him, it’s gut-wrenching,” Green said.
“He was keen to impress and he made a good start for us. I’m really disappointed for him.”
Earlier, the Cowboys toppled hot tournament favourites the Warriors in an 8-0 semi-final upset.
Spurred on by rapturous home-town support the Warriors had set the tournament alight, with captain Shaun Johnson and Sam Tomkins starring, but were stopped in their tracks by a determined Cowboys outfit.
The free-scoring Warriors looked out of sorts in the tournament’s penultimate match and Johnson admitted as much post-game.
“It was a disappointing way to go out, we started off poorly. it was the worst we played all day,” said Johnson, who was named player of the tournament.
“We were excited before the game, just gutted we couldn’t get through. We were just a bit off.”
Aucklanders embraced the event with 89,003 fans passed through the gates of Eden Park over the two days.
Warriors owner Eric Watson said the Nines had created almost unprecedented interest in rugby league in New Zealand.
“It is very special. We all have dreams but to imagine having all 16 teams playing together at Eden Park is incredible,” Watson said.
The event has pumped over $5 million into the New Zealand, which Duco Events Director David Higgins, the brains behind the tournament, said had exceeded expectations.
“It’s been a fantastic thing for Auckland and a fantastic thing for rugby league and will be around for years to come,” he said.
Manly winger David Williams could be another long-term tournament casualty, having also suffered a suspected ACL injury.
The former Kangaroos flyer is due to undergo scans on Monday.
While South Sydney playmaker Luke Keary also faces an extended period on the sideline with a shoulder complaint.
Wests Tigers utility Curtis Sironen (foot) is out for six weeks, Newcastle pivot Jarrod Mullen will miss around four weeks with a hamstring injury and Cronulla playmaker Todd Carney is in doubt for the NRL season start with a hamstring complaint.