JT the man for NQ - Tate - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

JT the man for NQ - Tate

Laine Clark 11/11/2010 08:39:44 PM Comments (0)

Days after being hauled before a North Queensland disciplinary hearing, Johnathan Thurston has been backed by new recruit Brent Tate as the man to lead the battling Cowboys.

An early morning public nuisance arrest in Brisbane in September was expected to place Thurston's captaincy at the NRL club under immense pressure.

The playmaker emerged unscathed from the club hearing in Townsville last Friday after offering to pay a sum to the Cowboys Community Fund.

He retained the captaincy, but a final decision on who will lead the Cowboys in 2011 will be made in the pre-season.

The choice will come down to Thurston and fellow leadership group members Tate, Dallas Johnson, Matt Scott and Aaron Payne.

However, Cowboys-bound Test centre Tate said there should be no debate over the captaincy.

"I think he is definitely a great leader up there," said Tate, who is preparing for Saturday night's Four Nations final against New Zealand.

"He's one of the greatest players in the world.

"The last couple of years he has probably lacked a bit of support around him.

"Hopefully now guys like myself, Dallas and Matty Scott can support him and help get the Cowboys back to where they need to be."

Easier said than done.

Coaching guru Phil Gould hardly painted a pretty picture after recently running the rule over the embattled club.

Following a woeful NRL season in which they only missed the wooden spoon due to the cap-rorting Melbourne Storm, Gould was asked to undergo a club review.

In the end, Gould opted not to take up a 12-month consultancy role, saying it was up to the Cowboys to "dig their way out".

Tate admitted a tough road lay ahead for the Cowboys, but he was excited by the challenge.

He could even find parallels with when he first started his three-season stint with the Warriors, which ended this year.

"At the start of 2008 we faced some huge challenges at the Warriors - it was probably a similar situation to the Cowboys now," he said.

"But we got together in the pre-season and we all came together as a group and worked hard (and made the NRL preliminary final)."

In the latest development, Kangaroos strike weapon Willie Tonga is reportedly trying to opt out of the final two years of his Cowboys contract in order to link with Parramatta or Brisbane.

Cowboys football general manager Peter Parr says Tonga "hasn't asked for a release and nor have we granted him one".

But Tate said the Cowboys had already undergone enough changes to motivate him ahead of the 2011 season.

Indeed the Cowboys have put the broom through their front office, coaching staff and player ranks since registering just five wins in 2010.

"Speaking to (coach) Neil Henry and Peter Parr, they were talking about starting afresh - I found that really appealing," Tate said.

"I am looking forward to having an influence and helping get the Cowboys playing finals again which - if you look at their list - they should have been doing the last couple of years."

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