10 May 2023

Cowboy comrades have Mango daring to dream

| Samuel Davis
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Valentine Holmes was the hero in the qualifying final against the Sharks. Can he continue to follow in the footsteps of fellow fullback Matt Bowen and become a Cowboys legend?

VALENTINE Holmes’ silky right slipper paved the way but it’s mateship that has the Cowboys on the cusp of premiership glory, a club legend says.

Like thousands of Cowboys fans, Hope Vale prodigy Matty Bowen celebrated as Holmes’ field goal sailed through the sticks, securing a famous 32-30 finals win over Cronulla at the death.

The Shark Park victory sets up a preliminary final at home this Friday night against the Parramatta Eels.

Watching teammates storm the ground to embrace Holmes was a sign this year’s group were playing for each other, Bowen said.

“As players you can feel that camaraderie and you know when you’re good enough to go all the way,” the former Origin star told Cape York Weekly.

“We had that in 2005 when we made the grand final.

“We had it in 2007 and probably 2004 even when we made preliminary finals and no one thought we’d get there. You can see the boys have got real belief.

“The whole of North Queensland is behind them now.”

Matt Bowen is North Queensland Cowboys royalty.

Cowboys hooker Reece Robson said the golden point thriller underscored the players’ belief.

“We backed ourselves that our fitness would still be there and help us later in the game,” Robson said.

“The want and desire – the boys didn’t just shy away from it. We just kept to the task and came away with the win.”

Bowen praised Cowboys mentor Todd Payten, who recruited halves Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend to the club while making major changes to the team’s game plan.

“He’s been a massive part of our achievements this year,” the Hope Vale legend said.

“Everyone bought into what he wanted to do. He brought in new coaches and new ideas.

“Everyone thought he was strange for limiting Jason Taumalolo’s minutes but it’s paid dividends.

“You’re one win away from a grand final. It was great to watch but the boys have been playing well all year. Everyone’s doing their job.”

While this year’s Cowboys squad doesn’t feature any Cape York talent, Bowen said a new academy he’s founded will help future stars emerge from beyond the Bloomfield River.

“I’ve been up there a lot and you see the local Indigenous kids who have so much talent, no matter the shape of the ball,” he said.

“They just need opportunity. I’m starting up my MB1 sports academy to capture that.

“We’ve run a few clinics. It’s not just about rugby league but sports performance in general.”

Kickoff at Townsville Stadium starts at 7.50pm on Friday night with fans from across the Cape expected to be in the stands.

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