North Queensland Cowboys have some top tier halfbacks at the club going into 2024.
Their most experienced is Chad Townsend. Closing in on 250 career experiences, Townsend has been a model of consistency during his two years at the Cowboys, appearing in every game across the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Townsend finished with 12 try assists in 2023 and led the NRL with five field goals.
Meanwhile, they have also given a bumper new deal to the in demand Tom Dearden. The Mackay product has emerged as one of the NRL’s top young playmakers over the past two seasons. A part of the Maroons squad throughout the Origin series, Dearden was selected for the Prime Minister’s XIII to take on PNG in September. Locked into the No.6 jersey, Dearden shapes as one of North Queensland’s most influential players for 2024.
The club have also brought back Jake Clifford from Super League. Tully’s favourite son returns to his home club on a one-year deal for 2024. Clifford appeared in 42 games for the Cowboys before departing mid-way through 2021 for the Knights. The 25-year-old spent the 2023 season with Hull FC in the UK Super League.
Lastly, they also have exciting young product Tom Duffy in the squad as the 2024 season draws ever closer. A born and bred Townsville product, Duffy has been promoted to the Cowboys’ Top 30 for 2024. A former Australian Schoolboy, Duffy appeared in 20 Queensland Cup games in his maiden season of senior rugby league, registering 10 try assists. The 20-year-old signed a contract extension mid-season, running through the 2025 season.
But all of this could mean that Townsend becomes available. The halfback was linked with a move to Super League in 2023 and now that he faces stiff competition in 2024, his time at the club could be numbered and could likely lead to a Super League move with many clubs in the market.
He would be the ideal signing for someone like the Catalans Dragons or indeed St Helens if they prove unable to retain Lewis Dodd who himself if being linked with a move to the NRL.
Hull FC could also sign him with Fa’amanu Brown more of a number nine despite taking on the number seven shirt in 2024.
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