The Cowboys tied the ropes at Hagen to transform the Peten team from Izibit to the final

Cowboys coach Todd Petten tried to hire Michael Hagan as an assistant coach with his coaching staff, and when that approach was turned down, he decided on the next best option.

Premiership-winning former Knights coach Patten accepted an offer to join a mentoring role in the off-season North Queensland set-up after refusing to become a full-time assistant 12 months ago.

Not wanting to make a fuss, Hagen’s appointment club never promoted and he insisted Roar His role is to support the significant changes that Peten is bringing to the club.

After a disappointing 7-17 record for 15th place in Patten’s first year, the Cowboys have become the NRL’s biggest promoters in 2022 after winning the same number of rounds after 10 rounds in Saturday night’s match-up with Melbourne in Townsville. .

From his regular catch-ups with coaches and teams, Hagan sees a unified squad that shares all-important friendships on and off the field.

“From my observations, in terms of what I have seen and how they are working together as a team, they look like a very close group and it always gives a good indication that a team is doing well, when they are quite good. Companions on and off the field, ”he said.

“They’ve got a model where they’ve got a lot of young players who’ve played a lot of football together and they’re building that solidarity not just for this year, but for next year and beyond. There are some great talents out there and I think they realized that possibility a little bit earlier than expected. ”

Brisbane, Australia - May 15: The Cowboys celebrate a Ruben Cutter attempt during a Round 10 NRL match between the West Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys at the Suncorp Stadium on May 15, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Albert Perez / Getty Images)

(Photo by Albert Perez / Getty Images)

Emerging stars such as forwards Jeremiah Nanai, Ruben Cutter and Helium Lukey, winger Murray Toulagi, fifth-eighth Tom Deirden and center Hamiso Tabuai-Fido are improving on Patten’s approach.

The North Queensland West Tigers’ 36-12 defeat in the Magic Round last Sunday was their fifth consecutive win, registering 30-plus points in four of those wins.

The differences across the board may not be so obvious when you compare it to last season’s injury-prone campaign.

They have trailed only Premier Penrith from the league’s worst maintenance, changing almost 20 points per game from a ridiculous 31.2 to a critically good 12.5.

The Cowboys’ Dodge Defense meant they were ranked last for attempts, line breaks and offload acceptance when they missed more tackles than any other team and were 14th for the amount of running meters they left. This year, they are in the top five in all those key defensive metrics.

2021 2022
Record: 7-17 at 29.1% (15th) Record: 7-3 (3rd) at 70%
Defense: 31.2 points per game (end) Defense: 12.5 (2nd)
Attempt accepted: 5.5 (End) Attempt accepted: 2.3 (2nd)
Line break allowed: 6.7 (End) Line break allowed: 3rd
Missed tackle: 36.8 (End) Missed tackle: 26.2 (5th)
Offload accepted: 10.8 (End) Offload accepted: 6.4 (1st)
Running meters acknowledged: 1544.9 (14th) Running meters acknowledged: 1277.4 (3rd)
Points scored: 19.2 (12th) Points scored: 25.1 (4th)
Line break: 4.4 (12th) Line break: 4.4 (7th)
Try help: 2.6 (15th) Try help: 3.7 (3rd)
Tackle breaks: 24.9 (15th) Tackle breaks: 28 (12th)
Offload: 6.7 (End) Offload: 7.1 (14th)

But it’s not just their defenses that have been transformed. In attack they were ranked in the bottom five for points, line breaks, assists, tackle breaks and offloads. Although they still can’t break a tackle or offload in a great clip, they are third in attempted assists, fourth in scoring points and seventh for line breaks.

It all adds up to a happy camp in Townsville as they had nothing to do with a strong performance against the Paramatman Storm as they tried to destroy their recent 35-4 title rivals.

Unlike last year, when Jason Toumalolo and Valentine Holmes missed a major part of the campaign after forcing co-captain Michael Morgan to retire prematurely at the start of the season with a chronic shoulder problem, the Cowboys enjoyed an almost injury-free run.

“Last year there were some games where we put together kids who had never played together, the kids were playing against men for the first time in the NRL arena, our people were out of position and we were asking a lot of them in the back end. Years, ”Petten said Friday. “I know how fast it can rotate and we need to make hay during sunlight.

“We are in a lucky position against other clubs, we have received at least 26 coaches per week so we had the ability to get 13 v 13.

Cowboys coach Todd Petten watches

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock / Getty Images)

“Our second team, our Renegades team, which we call, has done a great job in building the original squad. We’ve got some really quality players on that team and they’ve put pressure on our boys. We have copied some of them [Melbourne’s] Size. We’ve got a plan and then we have to fight and shake when things go against us. So this is a pretty simple message.

“We have a lot of focus on D but our attack and ball control has given us the strength to throw everything at D.”

Hagan said the team is looking super fit, benefiting from a trouble-free build-up in the summer months when the surgeon’s scalpel didn’t interfere too much with off-season training.

The acquisition of Toumalolo, Holmes and prop Jordan McLean’s experienced preachers, and the acquisition of veteran halfback Chad Townsend and center Peta Hiku have ensured the young members of the squad don’t go too far with their overnight success.

“I don’t think you can underestimate Chad Townsend’s influence,” Hagan said. “The guys who make a good impression on young players and they become field coaches in many ways.

“Everyone looks really clear about their role, which is a reflection of the head coach.”

Hagan coached low-grade Patten in Canberra a century ago, having played 259 games in the Raiders, Rooster and West Tigers, including the 2005 Grand Final, before retiring a decade ago. .

At 43, he’s at an age that still hits the sweet spot of having a modern game feel but has moved far enough away from current players so he’s not in the awkward place of coaching former teammates or opponents.

“He approached me 18 months ago to be an assistant coach when he first got the job and I said thank you. Parr, who is now on the board and has known me for 20 years, approached me to offer some support to Todd in a mentoring role, so it started again in October.

“Todd and I talked fortnightly in the pre-season and then every week in the season. I’m just watching how they play, who will play next week. Looking at the places he might not have thought of or given a few suggestions along the way. It’s a lot of supporting role. He’s very clear about how he wants the team to look.

“Todd has a real connection to the club because he has been here as an assistant coach. She is very comfortable at home here and feels very comfortable in this area. To me, as a coach, he seems to be quite stable and calm, which is reflected in various things. ”

Petten said the team bought his methods and the results were for everyone to see on the same page. Playing the “right way” game gives you the best chance of losing to the best teams

“[I’m] Proud and excited about the brand of football we are playing, it has brought us to where we are right now. We have to do it longer than we did at any stage of the whole season. Players are beginning to believe that this is achievable and they are beginning to believe our message so this is a good place, ”he said.

“Our fans are starting to know that we will fight and scrap, and will do so for as long as it takes.”

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