The example set by co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott has led the way for North Queensland players to sacrifice big dollars and stay to build an NRL dynasty, Michael Morgan says.
Fullback Lachlan Coote became the latest player to spurn lucrative rival offers and re-sign with the defending champions in a bid to launch another title tilt.
He sacrificed a reported $1.8 million to knock back a four-year Sydney Roosters deal and link with North Queensland until the end of the 2018 season.
Coote’s signature ensures the Cowboys will keep their spine for years to come after five-eighth Thurston (until 2017), halfback Michael Morgan (2018) and hooker Jake Granville (2018) also opted to stay.
Prop James Tamou and backrower Ethan Lowe are expected to be the next names on the Cowboys’ hit list.
Morgan said watching the likes of Thurston and Scott take huge pay cuts to remain for yet more title campaigns was hard to ignore during contract talks.
“Guys like Johnno and Thumper (Scott) set the example to start with – the sacrifice you can make for us to be successful,” Morgan said.
“At the end of the day it’s why we play the game, to win a competition.
“And we do have a good opportunity to do good things the next couple of years – I think Cootesy saw that too.
“I am sure that is a big reason he wanted to stay.
“We are a close group too. That’s a huge part of it.”
Coote admitted he agonised over whether to take up the lucrative Roosters deal but in the end believed staying with the Cowboys was a “no brainer”.
“I am very relieved. It’s what I always wanted,” he said.
“I was pretty sick of hearing about it (contract speculation) – I am sure the boys are too, they were making jokes about it.”
Coote said at first he was worried about the money he was giving up in Sydney but then reminded himself why he was playing.
“The team and family. I have started a young family up here and they always wanted to stay up here,” he said.
“And being a part of this team is a no brainer.
“Hopefully we are around October time.”