Cowboys are back, says Graham - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys are back, says Graham

Laine Clark 18/03/2011 04:40:12 PM Comments (0)

One game is all it took to convince milestone man Ash Graham that the North Queensland Cowboys were poised to turn around a woeful run in 2011.

It wasn't pretty but Graham liked what he saw in North Queensland's season-opening 16-14 upset over the Broncos - their first win against Brisbane since 2007.

Their never say die defence and a rejuvenated combination between co-captain Johnathan Thurston and No.1 Matt Bowen would have made most long suffering Cowboys fans smile.

And as he prepared for Saturday night's showdown with Newcastle in Townsville - his 100th game for the Cowboys - Graham believed it was only a glimpse of what was to come.

"It is only early days but there were definitely signs last weekend that we have turned the corner," he told AAP.

"It would be fair to say last season we would not have won that game (against Brisbane).

"To be able to defend our line like last weekend is something we have not shown in the last few seasons.

"And to see JT and Mango (Bowen) playing together again like that, well, it looks like it might be a good year for us.

"We also have guys like Brent Tate (knee) and (Antonio) Winterstein (broken jaw) on the sideline who are only going to add to the side - we are looking forward to a good season."

Then again, the Cowboys are due for some good news.

Finishing second-last twice in the last three years has been humbling enough for the 2005 grand finalists.

Then there were the off-field issues - Thurston's public nuisance arrest, the Cowboys unwittingly embroiled in a betting scandal and a question mark hanging over the captaincy just days before the 2011 season kick-off.

Yet somehow the Cowboys regrouped to claim a first round win over Brisbane - despite losing in just about every major statistical count to the Broncos on the night.

"We had not beaten them down there for a while so to kick start the season like that was extremely important," Graham said.

"There are always going to be off field distractions like speculation and criticism unfortunately.

"But as long we put in our best on-field performance, that's all we can control.

"We will try and build on that against Newcastle."

The Knights are buzzing from their opening 42-8 win at Penrith but will be without inspirational skipper Kurt Gidley (back) and enforcer Neville Costigan (broken arm).

Cairns-born Graham may have begun his NRL career back in 2002 at the Eels, but playing for the Cowboys was always the dream - one that was realised in 2006.

In his sixth season up north, Graham, 26, didn't want the ride to end just yet - especially at what he hoped was a rejuvenated Cowboys.

"Being a north Queensland boy I always wanted to play for the Cowboys," he said.

"To play 100 games for the club is something I am pretty proud of.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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