Written by Joshua Dean
Photo by Getty Images
At the start of 2020, Todd Payten was known as a solid NRL Assistant Coach. The Warriors signed him knowing he had an abundance of potential to become a possible Head Coach for the club in the future.
Fast forward to eight months later and Payten has proved to be a great leader for the Warriors in a season where they have made great sacrifices. He has had many problems that he has to overcome throughout this season, showing great character and leadership throughout.
It is obvious now that he is a very good NRL Head Coach and that the North Queensland Cowboys must sign him. If he can do what he has done with this underdog Warriors side, what could he do with a star-studded Cowboys outfit? He could make them a force to be reckoned with. They have underperformed greatly this season and with a few solid signings, could be hunting for the top four in 2021.
The Cowboys are really strong in certain positions, however, have a few weaknesses on the field as well. A gun centre, solid second-rower and a solid bench middle forward would strengthen the squad a great deal. Obviously, it is impossible to know how much money exactly they would have left to spend, but with Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes getting paid around $1 Million per year, we have to assume there isn’t much cash left. Cheap, bargain signings would be required for all three positions.
One player at the Warriors that has seemed to flourish under Payten is versatile centre Peta Hiku. He is off-contract this season and has been prolific on the left edge for the New Zealand based club, scoring six tries and assisting five. At 27 years old, he has a wealth of experience and could add something new to the Cowboys attack, as well as defensive prowess. Hiku has stated he wants to stay at the Warriors, however, I think Payten would be able to entice him to move. He would come at the right price and would add at the very worst squad depth to the club’s outside backs ranks.
A major issue with the Cowboys this season has been their defence. They have one of the worst defences in the NRL, having conceded 374 points in 14 games, around 27 points a game. For both the prop and second Row positions, they would have to recruit defensive-minded players. At prop, Aiden Tolman would be perfect. He is a workhorse in defence and is someone who can be reliable whatever role he is put in. His leadership is something that could influence this new crop of Cowboys forwards. In 2020, he has averaged 40 tackles in 12 games. Tolman would be a superb signing.
The second-row position has been a strength of the Cowboys in the past, with Gavin Cooper being a mainstay in the side for years. However, he is getting older and regressing, so depth is required on the edge. Aidan Guerra would be a short-term fix to the Cowboy’s defensive woes. He is an experienced edge forward that would bring consistency to the side. Returning to his native Queensland would be a factor in signing with the Townsville based club. Adding Guerra is would be another step to North Queensland returning to finals football.
The Cowboys could do much worse than signing Todd Payten. Although there are many big decisions to be made at the Townsville based club, he’d make the right ones and take them back to the promised land.