NRL Perth Nines winners the North Queensland Cowboys are being backed at 25/1 to win the NRL Grand Final and land them another financial windfall.
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It has not been revealed how much the Cowboys will collect for winning the first Nines tournament in three years, but they do know that the club will receive an overall bonus of $1 million Aus if they can win the Grand Final as well.
The NRL handed teams a massive incentive ahead of the Perth Nines by revealing they would secure the bonus money if they managed to win both tournaments – this was to make sure teams sent out strong playing squads.
The Cowboys did exactly that with the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt, Scott Drinkwater and Coen Hess all performing well.
The main attraction for the Cowboys was 18-year-old Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. The fullback, winger or centre was labelled a ‘freak’ by commentators at the weekend for his strength and speed. He managed to score four tries in five games and was unlucky not to be named in the Team of the Tournament.
The Cowboys kicked off the tournament with a 17-11 win over Brisbane Broncos in Pool 4 with Hess, Drinkwater and Tabuai-Fidow all scoring tries. They reached the quarter-finals with a 0-7 victory over Manky with Tom Opacic and Murray Taulagi crossing over.
In the quarter-finals, they ran out convincing 20-6 winners over South Sydney Rabbitohs with Hess, Drinkwater and Tabuai-Fidow again crossing for tries. They reached the final with a 19-10 win over Gold Coast Titans with Felt, Tabuai-Fidow, Shane Wright and Drinkwater all scoring.
This meant they met St George Illawarra Dragons in the final after the controversially beat Penrith Panthers in the quarters before claiming a last-minute win over Parramatta Eels. The Cowboys were too strong for the Dragons with Hess, Reece Robson, Jake Clifford and Tabuai-Fidow all scoring in a 23-14 success to win the Nines trophy for the second time in their history.
I know there is a massive difference between winning a Nines tournament and winning the whole NRL competition, but the Cowboys are no mugs and if they can keep their star players fit and slowly integrate their youngsters into the side then Paul Green’s men could be an outside bet. Success breeds confidence and at the moment they are the only team with any silverware. They can be backed at 25/1 to win the tournament and 20/1 to finish top and win the Minor Premiership.
Sydney Roosters, who play St Helens in the World Club Challenge this weekend, are the favourites to win the NRL Grand Final as the go in search of a third successive title win. St George Illawarra Dragons, who lost to the Cowboys in the Nine Final, are still rank outsiders to win the Grand Final at 33/1 with William Hill.