Former NRL great says time is running out for the side to make an impression this year.
Darren Lockyer says he is not ready to give up on his early season tip for NRL premiers this season, but added the North Queensland Cowboys don’t have long to turn it around.
Lockyer said while there have been signs the Cowboys could become a force in the competition, there are still several things they need to correct if they are to life the trophy.
“Despite another season of turbulence in Townsville, I’m not prepared to put the red line through North Queensland just yet,” Lockyer said.
“After all, in pre-season I tipped them to make the top four. But time is running out. For me, the next month will determine whether the Cowboys can generate sufficient momentum to be a premiership threat, starting against big guns South Sydney on Saturday.
“If you look at North Queensland’s draw, it makes for compelling reading, for they will have to overcome their greatest weakness — their away form — to kickstart a finals run.
“But if they conquer their travelling demons, look out, because if they can win without Matt Scott, his return in six weeks will be the ultimate springboard to a finals charge.
“After the Rabbitohs, the Cowboys have three consecutive road trips against the Dragons, Cronulla and the Bulldogs. The Dragons and Cronulla game are entirely winnable. In between those games, they have a bye.
“It’s a simple equation. Pick up eight or 10 points over that period and the Cowboys are on the cusp of the top six, particularly given the congested premiership table. But if their problems on the road continue, then the Cowboys face a Mission Impossible scenario of winning six consecutive games just to be a mathematical hope of reaching the playoffs.
“Sound familiar? A bit like the Cowboys circa 2013, who only came to life in the weeks after coach Neil Henry was shown the door.”