By STEVE MASCORD
NORTH Queensland prop James Tamou has agreed that the sacking of coach Neil Henry will be deemed premature if the Cowboys qualify for the finals.
NQ last night disposed of eighth-placed Gold Coast to continue an unbeaten run that began three weeks ago when Henry’s contract extension was rescinded.
The coach said after the 22-10 win – which ended the career of Titan Luke O’Dwyer when he was forced off with a snapped anterior cruciate knee ligament – that any discussion about why the Cowboys started winning after he was sacked was “going over old ground”.
But when Australia prop Tamou was asked whether a finals appearance would prove the club had acted hastily in disposing of Henry, he answered: “I think so, yeah.
“I heard about it in the media and all of that but when it actually happened and they sat us down and told us, I was very surprised.
“If we do make the finals, it will be really good for him and good for us. We do have the guns … teams will definitely do a longer video session on us
“It means more now because of the situation we’ve been through with Neil Henry and a few of the boys retiring.
“I didn’t think that would ever happen. Neil Henry’s been unreal. For someone who’s lost his job, he’s happy. Training sessions are better. All the boys are on a bit of a high. It doesn’t faze him.
“I feel for him because it’s a shame we couldn’t do this five weeks ago.
“We definitely let him down. If that was me, I wouldn’t be as happy as he is if I lost my job.”
Henry said the Cowboys were “just poking along”. “We’re enjoying training and looking forward to a game on the weekend. We’ve got three at home, out of four.”
Asked about the link between his sacking and the purple patch, he said: “We keep looking for reasons we’re playing good footy. Let’s just celebrate…”
The Cowboys led 12-4 at halftime, saw their lead whittled down to 12-10, and then won going away. Rookie winger Kyle Feldt posted a try brace.
Titans coach John Cartwright said the turnaround from the upset Monday Night Football win over Canterbury had made last night a tough assignment.
They remain in eighth but face the Warriors, Sydney Roosters and Melbourne on the run home. “it probably went the way I hoped it wouldn’t, but thought it would,” said Cartwright.
“It’s still in our hands and I knew that coming up here. We got (William Zillman) and Matrty Srama back tonight and they’re going to be better for the run. Albert Kelly is going to be really close next week, and Luke Bailey as well.
“We’re getting fresh troops back at a really important time.”
O’Dwyer had planned to retire at the end of the season. “It’s a tragedy if it’s what they think it is,” said Cartwright. “He’s definitely going to be missed for the rest of the year.
“There’s a faint hope, I supposed, that it’s not an ACL but they’re not usually wrong when they diagnose those things.”
Gold Coast’s Greg Bird (back spasms) and North Queensland’s Matt Scott (ankle) were other casualties, although each is expected to play next weekend.
Cowboy Ashton Sims was booked for a high shot on Titan Ryan James. Tamou said fullback matt Bowen, who will either join Wigan or retire, “has woken up, I guess, with the realisation he’s maybe not going to be here.”
NORTH QUEENSLAND 22 (K Feldt 2 G Cooper G Hall tries J Thurston 3 goals) bt GOLD COAST 10 (K Gordon D Mead tries A Sezer goal) at 1300smiles Stadium. Referees: M Cecchin/A Shortall. Crowd:12,003.
Filed for: SUN-HERALD