Cowboys formally welcome new coach Henry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys formally welcome new coach Henry

By Laine Clark 17/10/2008 05:29:05 PM Comments (0)

A royal welcome has been rolled out for Neil "King" Henry at Townsville.

But the new North Queensland coach revealed the closest the NRL club previously had to royalty - Test halfback Johnathan Thurston - may not be sighted at training until next year.

After officially being welcomed by the Cowboys, Henry said he would waste no time ushering in his reign with pre-season training starting on November 3.

However, Henry said Thurston would not begin Cowboys duty until recovering from post-World Cup groin surgery.

"JT has got the World Cup to go and then a minor operation - he probably won't be back until the New Year," he told reporters.

Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Glen Murphy said Thurston would undergo a six-week recovery.

"It's groin surgery. But he will be right for the start of the season," Murphy told AAP.

"He has a hernia that he picked up at Origin. We thought it best if he got it fixed up in the off-season so it wouldn't become a problem for next year."

But Henry has not wasted time chewing Thurston's ear about the year ahead.

Both were clearly excited about a new-look side which will boast former Melbourne forward Antonio Kaufusi, ex-Rabbitohs giant Manase Manuokafoa as well as Bulldogs recruit Willie Tonga.

Injuries depleted the Cowboys pack as North Queensland lost 13 straight to narrowly avoid the wooden spoon in 2008.

"A lot of it fell back on Carl Webb to get some momentum for the team," Henry said of North Queensland's woeful 5-19 win-loss record this year.

"Talking to Johnathan Thurston about it, he is looking forward to playing behind a pack that is probably going to go forward a little bit better.

"We might be able to play a slightly different style."

Henry will have the majority of his squad at his disposal when he begins his five-year deal with just Matt Bowen (knee) and Steve Southern (shoulder) to miss most of the regular pre-season.

Although buzzing from his successful final year at Canberra, Henry said he was not kidding himself about the task ahead at North Queensland.

"It was a disappointing year for the people up here," he said.

"We need to improve no doubt, there's some challenges there.

"(But) it's a new era."

Cowboys boss Peter Parr couldn't hide his delight as he welcomed back Henry, a North Queensland assistant from 2002-06 under former coach Graham Murray.

"We have (confidence in him) but he can't do it himself. It's got to be a collective effort," he said.

Parr said the club had kept an open mind about Henry keeping his Queensland Origin assistant coach position.

"I think it has been very good for his own personal development. As a board we will sit down with Neil and make a decision," he said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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