RUGBY LEAGUE: North Queensland has locked up Queensland Origin centre Justin O’Neill and highly rated utility forward Ethan Lowe until 2018, further boosting the club’s depth.
After recently extending the contracts of classy fullback Lachlan Coote and outside backs Kane Linnett and Antonio Winterstein, the Cowboys are in a strong position to challenge for multiple premierships after breaking through for their maiden win last season.
Coach Paul Green, who has done a great job assembling a powerful playing roster in his short but highly successful tenure at the club, believes O’Neill and Lowe are vital acquisitions if the club is to continue to be successful.
“It’s a huge boost to be able to sign players of their calibre,” said Green as North Queensland prepared to play a desperate South Sydney in Cairns on Sunday afternoon.
O’Neill, who has found his best form, has scored 20 tries in 40 games for the Cowboys and his form for Queensland this series has been eye-catching.
Green said O’Neill did not get off to the best of starts with the Cowboys but said he had worked tirelessly to get the bad habits out of his game and was now gleaning the rewards.
Lowe, who was called into Queensland’s Origin squad as 18th man for game two, is a damaging ball-runner, who was instrumental in the club’s premiership season, playing all 28 games and starring in the grand final.
“Lowey, he’s developing along nicely,” Green said. “He’s been in our system for quite a while. He has come through our Intrust Super Cup club, the Northern Pride.”
Meanwhile, Green said centre Linnett would be a withdrawal against Souths.
“He’ll be out unless he has a miracle recovery in the next few days,” he said.
“The injury is not too bad but it would be a risk to play him.”
Javid Bowen is Linnett’s likely replacement.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.