North Queensland Cowboys management has
been forced publicly to address rumours of a Wayne Carey-type scandal in the

The rumours have been around for weeks and
have been blamed for the Cowboys’ recent dreadful form. Yesterday they made headlines in the Townsville Daily Bulletin. CEO Peter Parr was forced
to deny there was any truth in the reports that a player had been misbehaving
with a teammate’s partner.

It has now emerged that the club’s highest
profile player, Johnathan Thurston, met with the CEO on Monday night and
begged the club to clear his name, and that of the team, publicly. Thurston denied the
allegations, telling Parr the false rumours were starting to affect his family
and friends. The Courier Mail yesterday reported that Thurston was in tears when he demanded the club take action.

Parr spoke with all players, resulting in
the unequivocal statement from the CEO yesterday, raising the question: why didn’t
the Cowboys’ management put these rumours to rest much earlier?

But back to the Cowboys’ form slump. The Cowboys
are the classic victims of State of Origin. They
have had up to six players in the Maroons and Blues teams, and worse still, the
head coach, assistant coach and trainer were all tied up on Origin duties for a
total of five weeks in the middle of the season.

The form slump began in round ten when the
Cowboys lost to the Storm. They were subsequently beaten by the Raiders in
round 11, and Wests Tigers, Sharks, Bulldogs and the Dragons in succession.
Then they fell over the line against the Rabbitohs in round 17 and had the bye
last weekend. The State of Origin series was played between rounds 11 and 18.

For the Cowboys, it’s now a case of getting
back to business, and not before time.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey