Despite North Queensland skipper Johnathan Thurston entering his twilight years, former coach Graham Lowe believes the club is on the verge of a rugby league dynasty.
Thurston’s Cowboys are gunning for the club’s first ever premiership when they meet Brisbane in the NRL’s all-Queensland decider on Sunday.
But according to Lowe, who coached the club in its infancy back in 1996, the Townsville-based side are currently built for sustained success.
Their reserve grade side Townsville Blackhawks appeared in the Queensland Cup grand final on Sunday.
Their under-20s side fell one game short of a decider.
Their flagship rugby league school, Kirwan State high, took out the national schoolboys title last week.
And even their primary school, Kirwan State primary, took part in the state final on the weekend.
“They’re on the edge of building a dynasty,” Lowe told AAP.
“I’d be surprised if they don’t find another Thurston in one of those small towns in the north of Queensland.”
Of their current top 25, Thurston, who is slated to win a record fourth Dally M medal on Monday night, is the only player in the current 17 over the age 30.
More importantly, every single member that defeated Melbourne in Saturday night’s preliminary final will be back next year.
The only players heading out the door at the end of the season is the retiring Glenn Hall, as well as fringe players Robert Lui and Hezron Murgha.
Lowe also praised the current coach Paul Green for avoiding the temptation of running the popular block plays implemented by most sides in the NRL.
“Somehow they’ve managed to keep their feet firmly implanted in the roots of the game,” Lowe said.
“We’re brainwashed into thinking that the game is very different now, but it’s not.”
Lowe said Green was successful in finally providing a balanced game plan that evolved around the sublime playmaking skills of Thurston.
“Importantly, they play the right brand of football,” he said.
“The game of rugby league is a simple game. It’s all about draw and pass. And that’s what Johnathan Thurston is. He’s the best in the world at it.”