NORTH Queensland star Brent Tate says Cowboys players were guilty of believing their own hype this season and has called on management to consult team-mates Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott before appointing a replacement for Neil Henry.
Five days after Henry was told his services would not be required next season, the Cowboys turned on a startling display to thrash NRL hotshots 30-12 at 1300smiles Stadium.
But Tate says players should have realised that despite predictions of a premiership in 2013, the absence of a settled half and hooker was always going to make it a difficult season.
“So much expectation has been heaped on us and I think we got ahead of ourselves, really,” Tate tells RLW.
“We didn’t handle it very well. I’ve spoken to Neil about this – we started the season with an untried hooker and without a stable halfback. They we had injuries to our fullback, Mango (Matt Bowen).
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to notice that all the top clubs have nine, six, seven and one nailed down.
“I was like anyone, I was excited about this year and what we could do and had a heap of belief in the team but in hindsight, you peel the layers back and see what the real situation was.
“I’m not point the finger at anyone because we have all played poorly at periods this year, me included, but those positions just weren’t settled and all the great sides have those positions settled.
“Hooker and half has been our Achilles heal, through injury and form. “
Tate says he understands Henry’s frustration that Saturday night’s performance didn’t come sooner. “If it did, we wouldn’t be in this position,” he said.
“I think maybe there was a feeling of a pressure valve being released for the players, knowing the decision has now been made. But really, you can’t explain it.
“it’s probably our first 80 minute performance of the year, it’s probably the only time we’ve played to our potential.”
The Australia centre says players weren’t consulted before the NQ board decided to rescind Henry’s contract extension.
“I certainly wasn’t asked and I’m part of the leadership group,” he said “That’s a decision the club had to make and I didn’t hear about it until Monday.
“But if not the leadership group, you’d like to think Johnno and Matt would be consulted because they’re the captains and they’ve put a lot into the club. I think they should be consulted, it’s important they are.”
Aside from finding the right man as coach, the Cowboys have to make sure they don’t start 2014 in the same positional disarray as they did 2013.
Tate believes Robert Lui at seven and Ray Thompson at nine could be “the answer”. But no recognised fullback is contracted for 2014 yet.
“Ray Thompson hasn’t been playing hooker in his entire career. Both are getting better and better. Robbie just needed an opportunity and some football under his belt. He could be the answer for us.
“As for fullback, I hope something is sorted out soon. All the good players in that position tend to be locked up way ahead of time. You can see how important Mango is to the way we play.
“Hopefully the club can sort something out with him.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK