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Cowboys no longer one-man team

By Ben Galvin 21/06/2009 03:36:18 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland hooker Aaron Payne believes the 24-22 NRL win over the Sydney Roosters has dispelled the myth the Cowboys are a one-man band.

Missing skipper and halfback Johnathan Thurston due to State of Origin commitments, the Cowboys produced another strong performance to claim their fifth win from their last six games to move onto the fringe of the NRL top four.

It has been well documented that the Cowboys struggle without their inspirational skipper, winning just over 20 per cent of games when Thurston is on Origin duty or injured.

But following an intense pre-season training regime and the recruitment of experienced fringe players Travis Burns and Grant Rovelli, the Cowboys are finally well-covered to keep powering through the sapping Origin period.

Acting captain Payne believes his side's impressive preparation was the key to victory over a Roosters side desperately short of luck and trying to return to the winners' circle.

"Yeah obviously we don't have a very good record without him (Thurston) in the side he is a great player," said Payne.

"We have had the best preparation without him we have ever had.

"The experienced guys that come into the side we interchange at training. So we have probably been preparing for footy without JT since November."

Cowboys coach Neil Henry praised the performances of his fringe players in helping the club to its eighth win of the season.

"The guys we had coming in for our experienced players are experienced players, we are not putting rookies in there," said Henry.

"Grant Rovelli has played 70 odd first grade games and so has Ben Harris, Manase (Manuokafoa) has too he had two seasons there where he was playing first grade every week.

"They are used to that and they need to step up to it and play like an NRL player and I was pretty happy with their efforts."

Although happy with the performance the Origin assistant coach could still see some areas for improvement.

"I think we prepared well and I always thought we could certainly win a game of footy," he said.

"We talked after the game saying there were quite a few sets in attack we didn't execute too well (and) we need to be a bit better than that in our kicking game.

"We need to learn from that with the guys in there."

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