Cooper Kronck believes Cowboys coach Todi Payne deserves a lot of credit for his success in Queensland after developing the next generation of Maroons stars.
Cowboys youngsters Tom Darden, Jeremiah Nanai, Ruben Cotter, Tom Gilbert, Murray Taulagi and veteran Valentine Homs starred in the Queensland series, with Chad Tawsend, Reyes Robson and Jordan McLean in the Blues.
After nine Cowboys were included in both teams of origin and the fact that North Queensland is second on the NRL ladder, Kronk Payne believes Maron is the undisputed hero.
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“The players should be proud because they did a good job but I think Todd Payne should be very proud,” Kronk said.
“He has developed a system that makes the players better. Better yet, Tom Dordon is unwanted and going there and is now a star of Queensland origin.
Michael Inis Cowboys believes that as a club, Payne and his players should be proud of what they have achieved in this year’s series.
“Cowboys are proud of their players,” Inis said.
“Geez, you played well. Even Nana and Gilbert played for the first time tonight. Ruben Cotter in that opening game.
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“The Cowboys were great.”
Dorden, a 49-year-old NRL veteran, has joined the decision-making process at Suncorp Stadium and played as a 10-year veteran thanks to his progress at Cowboys under Payne.
“He was only five feet tall but seven feet tall and went to Suncorp as if he was bulletproof,” Cronk said.
“One of the first touches was to test Josh Papali. He then prepares for the Homs experiment. He was playing 101 balls on the big stage.
“Fast walking. Four by four. He beat the defender and threw a peg at Holmes, which was his first attempt.
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But I also liked his character. In the first half he passed, passed, passed. But in the second half he ran, ran, ran.
“He experienced everything that came his way. He presented these plays.
“Sometimes players like Tom Derden are not meant to do things on the football field, but because you have to do it online.
“He was great. One of the first times we saw him.
When Inis decided to hang up Darden’s first game, he believed Queensland had a queue to replace half of it and was now a replacement.
“He didn’t look impressed,” says Anis.
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“Something he did proved himself to be that way.
“When that time comes, when Deli Cherry-Evans or Ben Hunt decides to retire, he is the next taxi off the ladder.
“Munster knows you can call him if he gets hurt next year.”
Cronk Nanai believes he was the best player on the field in 20 minutes of Origen’s crucial opening and was ready for a long career.
“Nanai seemed to be the most dangerous player on the field for the first 20 minutes,” Cronk said.
Only self-confidence to support your own skills on the big stage. He was loading and hitting lines.
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“His ability to chase the ball. As soon as the ball goes up, this magnet Jeremiah Nanai goes straight to him and competes in everything.
“Some of the touches were amazing,” says Anis.
Payne is also grateful to Valentine Homes for helping him find his best form at the NRL level in a new midfield and translating that into the starting lineup.
“He went to the NFL and did his own thing, but he’s a star in North Queensland, out and about,” Kronk said of Holmes.
“He was very good in this series. He didn’t play much in the middle but he took responsibility and agreed with what Todd Paine taught there and he was a star.
Cowboys and Peeton are planning a Premier League season that is unlikely to end at the end of the year.