The $1m call Payten needs to make as ‘ordinary’ Cowboys urged to ‘turn this around’

It’s time for the Cowboys to say “enough is enough” and hit the reset button, according to club legend Brent Tate.

But to do that the club’s brightest stars need to lead the way — and that could force coach Todd Payten into making a some big calls.

The Cowboys have nosedived in the past four seasons. They went from a grand final in 2017 to second last in 2018 - then finished 13th, 14th and back to 15th last year.

Tate, who played 67 of his 229-game career for the Cowboys, wants to see the current playing group put an end to the club’s horror run.

“The last few years have been pretty ordinary,” Tate told

“There’s just got to be a real reset because the Cowboys have been really successful within the last eight years, but the last three or so years there has been a real dip — there’s no hiding from that.

“At some stage, this group have got to stick their hand up and say ‘enough is enough, we need to turn this around’.”

The Cowboys senior players must take the lead, but Tate believes the next tier down — the future stars — will be just as crucial in changing the club’s fortune.

“Definitely the senior players (need to step up), Jordan McLean, Jason Taumalolo and even Coen Hess,” Tate said.

“But I really think these younger guys coming through like Hammer and I think ‘Val’ Holmes has got a huge effect on the group if he can get back to some form, also Reuben (Cotter) — those sort of middle tier guys are probably going to have more of an influence on this group more than anyone.

“Obviously at every club, every senior player needs to play well, but that next level down, that’s where it’s won or lost.”


Premiership-winning halfback Chad Townsend headlines the list of new recruits for the Cowboys this season.

Townsend inked the three-year deal in April last year and not long after he was dropped to reserve grade before the Sharks granted him an early release to join the Warriors for the remainder of the 2021 season.

The 31-year-old is reportedly earning around the $800,000 mark per season, making him one of the club’s top earners.

He’ll wear the No.7 jersey this season, but who partners him remains a mystery at this stage.

We know Tom Dearden and Scott Drinkwater are the two options Payten is looking at and won’t know who he’s leaning towards until the Cowboys’ get through their two trial games against the Rabbitohs and Broncos.

Tate believes both Dearden and Drinkwater will get a shot at some stage this season but said the Round 1 selection is a “real head ache” for Payten.

He sees a lot of potential in Drinkwater in particular but has urged the electric playmaker to eliminate the errors from his game and to soak up as much knowledge as possible from Townsend during pre-season.

“Drinky’s got all the ability in the world, he’s just got to learn to know when to pull the trigger and when not to,” he said.

“Also to have an understanding that you just can’t be making heaps of errors in games — it’s not OK to do that. That’s what loses games.

“He’s got all the ability in the world and could be a really quality No.6 if he wants to knuckle down and learn from Chad.”

Dearden has had big raps on him from a young age — but you get the sense the 20-year-old may have to continue biding his time.

“I think Tom Dearden is going to be a wonderful player,” Tate said.

“He’s always been a good junior, he’s really competitive and that’s enough for me to think that he’s going to make it.”