The reigning premiers of the NRL have identified a few targets to bolster their forward pack and replace NSW forward James Tamou: Felise Kaufusi and Jordan McLean from Melbourne and Jack Stockwell from the bottom-placed Newcastle.
Jordan McLean is enjoying arguably his best season in the purple jersey, averaging more game time and earning himself a starting spot. The Cowboys are willing to triple his salary in order to get him to Townsville. His style is very similar to Tamou, a heavy-hitting prop.
Another target is fellow teammate, Felise Kaufusi. Last year, he enjoyed a breakthrough season with the purple, providing go-forward off the bench. Lately however, he has found himself in and out of rotation of the Melbourne Storm’s final 17. His potential is limitless and is struggling to crack a consistent first grade spot simply due to Melbourne’s stocks. Felise’s younger brother Patrick plays for North Queensland, but that isn’t the main reason that could tempt Kaufusi to jump ship. The allure of a starting spot with a world-class outfit in the 2015 champions, may prove to be too strong for even Bellamy’s pulling power.
Barely into his three year, shy-of-a-million dollar contract with the bottom-dwelling Newcastle Knights, Jack Stockwell has struggled to maintain a spot in first grade, and he is rumoured to have fallen out with Knights coach Nathan Brown. Jack Stockwell showed promising signs when he began his career at St. George-Illawarra and can certainly hold his own, why he’s playing NSW Cup is a mystery. But his defection could be a blessing in disguise, as North Queensland are trying to poach the 24 year old — possibly before the June 30 deadline. They have a couple of days to finalise the deal and we all know how frantic player movements can be at the Eleventh Hour.
One thing is certain, the Cowboys have adopted a more conservative approach to signing talent: opting for lesser-known players to fill big holes. It’s a system that has earned coaches from different sports respect: from Craig Bellamy, to Bill Bellichick to Gregg Poppovich; Paul Green is slowly shifting into a coach of that calibre, basing a team around key members of his spine. Whether the player is a washed up has-been, fringe first-grader or a local park footy hero, if they fit the bill then they’re right for the job.