Just over a fortnight ago North Queensland’s bid for back-to-back NRL premierships appeared in tatters.
The Cowboys had just been beaten by the lowly Sydney Roosters 22-10 – their third loss in a row – and any hope of a top-four finish seemed gone.
Fast forward two weeks and the Cowboys are back on track.
Victories over the Warriors and Canterbury mean the premiers will finish fourth with a win over Gold Coast at home on Saturday, giving them a double chance in the finals.
Centre Justin O’Neill admits the team’s confidence took a hammering during the run of defeats and says they had to rediscover their desire to turn things around.
“The fire in our belly definitely came back in our last couple of games,” he said.
“That was something we were lacking a little bit. That hunger to win games and do whatever it took to win.
“The last couple of games has really helped get confidence and morale back up around the club.”
No club has gone back-to-back in a unified rugby league competition since Brisbane in 1992-93.
The Cowboys have long stated that defending their title is a driving force and O’Neill admits securing a top-four finish will go a long way to achieving that ambition.
“It was definitely a goal for us,” he said.
“We definitely wanted to finish in the top four. We’ve put ourselves in a good position to do that and the rest is going to be up to ourselves.”