NRL round 12: GOLD COAST 31 NORTH QUEENSLAND 12 at Skilled Park

By STEVE MASCORD

NORTH Queensland chief executive Peter Jourdain has eased some of the pressure on coach Neil Henry by insisting his job is not immediately in any jeopardy.

Talking to Fairfax Media as he left Skilled Park after the Cowboys’ 31-12 loss to Gold Coast, Jourdain said the was no reason to suspect Henry would not stay in the role for the rest of this year. While dismissing reports the Titans game was the first of two on which Henry would be judged, the CEO stopped short of making any guarantee about next year.

“The two-game thing? It’s bullshit … yes, that’s what I’ve been saying all along,” said Jourdain as the Cowboys boarded a bus bound for Brisbane and a flight to Townsville.

Asked if Henry was in the position for the rest of the year, Jourdain nodded. Asked about next year, he said: “Look, we’re all in a tough position right now

“And the only way we’re going to get out of it is to stick together.”

The defeat leaves the Cowboys in 12th position with four wins and eight losses, 12 rounds into a season which began with them installed by some as premiership favourites.

In interviews given before yesterday’s match, Henry gave the impression he had been assured by club bosses his job was not immediately in jeopardy. Asked by Fairfax Media afterwards if this was the case, he declined to be quoted on the matter.

Earlier, he said he expected pressure because his side was underperforming but did not believe he was under as much as had been portrayed.

“These things happen,” he said. “We’re not travelling well. We all take responsibility for that and I’m the head coach. That goes with the territory.

“I’ve got confidence in the squad we’ve got … we’ve put ourselves in a difficult position this far into the competition.

“With six players out today – that’s not an excuse. We can’t use our rep players as an excuse for that performance.“

With Titans giant Dave Taylor being encouraged to play on despite a painful calf injury – he pulled out on match eve, was restored to the side an hour before kick-off, hobbled through the opening exchanges and then played strongly – Gold Coast was just too good.

Halves Albert Kelly and Aiden Sezer were superb in the absence of the Titans’ Origin stars, while some resolute goal-line defence repeatedly frustrated the visitors.

One bright note for North Queensland was a miraculous 58th minute try to winger Ashley Graham, who reeled in a kick that looked like it was going touch in-goal.

Taylor said he would like to be involved in Origin but added: “I wouldn’t care who was in the side, I wouldn’t care if 17 strangers were going out there to represent Queensland.

“As long as they get the job done.”
Coach John Cartwright indicated the calf problem was largely mental for the former Australian international.

“Guys will play with that every week but when you haven’t had it before, you get a bit worried,” Cartwright said.

“All he needed was convincing from the doctor that it was nothing major and it wasn’t going to turn into a six-week injury.”

Captain Dallas Johnson said the players’ performances were “not helping” Henry, who admitted that after defeats he was starting to sound “like a broken record.

“Decision making around what we do is poor … it’s a struggle for us.”

Titan Mark Minichiello was reported for a high tackle while prop Ryan James was badly concussed in a head clash.

GOLD COAST 31 (W Zillman 2 A Kelly 2 M Minichiello tries A Sezer 5 goals field goal) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 12 (A Winterstein A Graham E Lowe tries) at Skilled Park. Referees: G Reynolds/G Sutton. Crowd: 12,790.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

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