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North Queensland Cowboys NRL 2024 Predictions, Projections and Player Movement

Last updated: 10 Feb 2024
Jeremy Darke 10 Feb 2024
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  • Cowboys expected to just miss the finals in 9th position.
  • With Scott Drinkwater at the back, the Cowboys backline is potent.
  • Will North Queensland find their defensive stature from 2022?
North Queensland Cowboys, Scott Drinkwater, Valentine Holmes
The Cowboys left side attack was as potent as any in 2023. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

NRL 2024 Predictions, Projections and Player Movement: North Queensland Cowboys

Where they finish: 9th

The Cowboys will be on the cusp and their season’s success will depend on if they can rectify the defensive woes and lows they had last season. They have a backline that can strike but it will be what happens in the engine room that will decide if they make the eight or not.

What’s to like 

The Cowboys have a lineup that is definitely worth returning to finals footy this season and can once again push to be a top side in the NRL. Scott Drinkwater came alight last season, scoring 11 tries and 25 try assists along with 14 linebreaks. The Cowboys fullback’s combination on the left side with Val Holmes and Murray Taulagi was as clinical as any and with Tom Dearden also stepping up the North Queensland attack is potent and can put up points quickly.

What’s NOT to like

The Cowboys run to the Prelim in 2022 was built on defence and that just wasn’t at the same level in 2023. Last season the Cowboy’s averaged 22.58 points against while in 2022 it was more than a converted try less, averaging just 15.96 points against per game.

Cowboy’s legend Jason Taumalolo wasn’t as effective playing in the middle of the field with the frontrow being the weak link in the Cowboys back. 

The North Queensland organisation didn’t make any moves in the offseason to rectify that, showing faith in the personnel that they have in place. This may turn out to be the right decision but they are a little vulnerable from the outside looking in.

North Queensland Cowboys Offseason Player Movement

Ins: Viliami Vailea (Warriors), Thomas Mikaele (Warrington Wolves)

Outs: James Tamou (retired), Peta Hiku (Hull KR), Mitch Dunn (retired), Ben Hampton (unsigned), Brendan Elliot (unsigned) Riley Price (Panthers), Gehamat Shibasaki (unsigned), Jake Bourke (unsigned), Taniela Sadrugu (Brive rugby)

North Queensland Cowboys Predicted Starting 17

1. Scott Drinkwater
2. Kyle Feldt
3. Zac Laybutt
4. Valentine Holmes
5. Murray Taulagi
6. Tom Dearden
7. Chad Townsend
8. Jason Taumalolo
9. Reece Robson
10. Coen Hess
11. Jeremiah Nanai
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Reuben Cotter

14. Jake Granville
15. Jordan McLean
16. Griffin Neame
17. Heilum Luki

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