North Queensland have been given a heroic farewell by their fans before the side boarded their plane down to Sydney for Sunday’s NRL grand final against Brisbane.
After an early morning grand final parade in the town centre, the Cowboys were greeted by almost 500 boisterous fans, as well as a live jazz band, at Townsville airport.
A number of players were recording the reception – complete with balloons, streamers and banners – while the supporters were doing likewise.
“It’s unbelievable,” co-captain Matt Scott said.
“We thought there’d be a big turnout, but it still surprised a few of the guys.”
Told there were only a handful of fans to see off the Broncos on Wednesday, Scott quipped: “They’ve been in enough grand finals. It’s old news to the Broncos supporters right now.
“Look, it’s exciting times for us, a second grand final and obviously everyone’s hopeful for that maiden premiership.”
After two light training runs to begin the week the side will wrap up their promotional obligations late on Thursday.
Then coach Paul Green will have his team to himself as they head into lockdown with two closed training sessions in preparation for the decider.
The captain’s run will be at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
“We’ve got a big day today, but that’s to be expected in grand final week,” Scott said.
“But after that we get two days down there where we can really concentrate on footy and try and put two really good training sessions together to build a bit of momentum into Sunday.”
Both skipper Johnathan Thurston and left-edge partner Gavin Cooper were put on ice early in the week but are expected to train with the team from Friday onwards.
“It was the calf that he had a little bit tight in the Melbourne game. He’ll be fine. The rest will help Johnno,” assistant coach David Furner said.
Pressed on the health of Cooper, Furner replied: “He doesn’t get the accolades that some other players do, but Coops will be right to go. We’ll wheel him out for one more game.”