Kicking off in 1995, the Cowboys were part of the national and international expansion that turned the NSWRL into the ARL.
Over the course of the club’s history there have been highs, lows, moments of brilliance and moments that left you saying WTF?
The club has had some brilliant players, here are their top ten.
10. Michael Morgan
Townsville born and bred, Morgan worked his way up the ranks of the Townsville Brothers and debuted for the Cowboys in 2009, scoring two tries in four games that year.
In 2014 he was a part of the Auckland Nines-winning team and moved to fullback for the injured Lachlan Coote. He also won the club’s most improved and player of the year award. In 2015 he became a premiership winner, sending the pass that sent Kyle Feldt over the line to lock up the scores.
He has had 104 games for the club, scored 42 tries, represented Queensland five times and played six Tests for Australia.
9. Brent Tate
Tate only had a 67-game career with the Cowboys, but was still one of the greats for the club, scoring 28 tries.
In an injury-riddled career, he had his third knee surgery while at the club, but bounced back in 2011, before retiring in 2014 due to another knee injury.
Tate represented Queensland 23 times and played 26 Tests for Australia.
8. Matt Sing
I always have been a big fan of Matt Sing, not just because he is a fellow North Rocky High boy like me, but for his playing ability.
Sing came to the Cowboys in 2002 and was named the player off the bat. He played 104 games for the club, finishing his career there. In 2003 he notched up 100 career tries.
Sing represented Queensland in 24 games, and in the 2003 series he was named man of the match for Game 3, after becoming only a handful of men to score three tries in an Origin game. Sing had 15 Tests for Australia.
7. James Tamou
Tamou debuted for the Cowboys in 2009 and finished the year with 12 games and two tries. Part of an upfront combo for the Cowboys with Matt Scott, he averaged over 100 metres per game. In 2010 he was awarded the club’s most improved player, and in 2012 he was the players’ player.
Tamou played 170 games for the club but is now at the Panthers.
6. Jason Taumalolo
In 2010 Taumalolo became the youngest player ever to debut for the club, at 17 years, two months and 21 days. In 2014 he was part of the Auckland Nines winning squad and was selected for New Zealand for the first time.
In 2015 he was named the Dally M Lock of the Year and won a grand final. In 2016 he was again named Dally M Lock of the Year and locked up the Dally M Medal as player of the year (shared with Copper Cronk).
5. Aaron Payne
A local boy, Payne attended Kirwan high school (actually I think I played him in a Rocky vs Townsville schoolboys tournament back in 1999, but another story for another day).
In 2002 he signed with the Cowboys and played 219 games for the club as their hooker or halfback, including the club’s 2005 grand final loss to the Wests Tigers.
In 2005 he was the only player to play every game, and was player of the year for the club in 2006 and 2008.
4. Paul Bowman
Bowman was a Cowboys original, debuting for the team in 1995, was the club’s player of the year for 1999 and 2000, captain between 2001 and 2004, and played centre in the 2005 grand final.
Upon his retirement in 2007, he was the last original still at the club and the longest serving, with 203 games. That same year the Cowboys announced that the Cowboy of the year award would be renamed the Paul Bowman Award.
Bowman represented Queensland 12 times and scored two tries in Game 3 of the 2003 series. He is remembered as one of the best defensive centres in the game’s history.
3. Matt Bowen
Bowen debuted for the club in 2001, playing 15 games, scoring six tries and kicking one goal. In 2007 he was the Dally M Fullback of the year, as well as the club’s player of the year and player’s player.
Bowen went on to be the most capped player at the club, with 270 games, scoring 130 tries – also a club record. He is considered club royalty.
He represented Queensland ten times and had one Test for Australia in 2004 before retiring from the club in 2013.
2. Matt Scott
Born in Longreach, Scott played his high school years at St Brendan’s College, Yeppoon, during which time he was picked up by the Cowboys development squad.
Debuting in 2004, he worked through the ranks to become co-captain, alongside Johnathan Thurston.
In 2011 he won the Dally M prop of the year, and was the club’s player of the year and players’ player for both 2010 and 2013. He led the side to premiership glory in 2015 and also in that year won the Dally M for captain of the year.
Scott has represented Queensland and Australia 22 times each.
1. Johnathan Thurston
No doubts here, Thurston is the best player to ever pull on a Cowboys jersey, despite that fact that he started his career with the Bulldogs and was part of their 2004 grand final-winning team.
JT joined the Cowboys in 2005, making that year’s grand final. Currently, JT only needs five games to break Matt Bowen’s record for club appearances, and is one point away from breaking 2000 points, making him the most capped and highest points scorer for the club.
Primary among Thurston’s many god-like feats is kicking the wining field goal in the 2015 grand final, earning the Clive Churchill Medal, in what is the game of the century so far.
He has been the Dally M Player of the year four times, 2005, 2007, 2014 and 2015, has three Golden Boots, 2011, 2013 and 2015, and basically has an encyclopedia list of awards and accolades too long to list.
Having represented Queensland 36 times and with 37 Tests for Australia, there’s no doubt he will be an Immortal.
Do you agree with my list? Who are your favourite Cowboys player? Next up the Gold Coast Titans.