Justin O'Neill weighs up his future
Justin O'Neill is off contract and weighing up three options on his future as he aims to recapture the form that took him to the Queensland Maroons in 2016.
Knowing that coach Paul Green is on deck until the end of 2021 has O'Neill inclined to want to stay on at the club where he won the 2015 premiership after moving north from Melbourne.
"I am trying to weigh up whether I take that option up and then try to stay on here, whether I move or whether I try and lock in another few years here before I take up the option," O'Neill told NRL.com.
"I’ve spoken to my manager (Isaac Moses) and we are in negotiations now. It all depends what he comes back to me with and what I get to work with.
"If I could secure another few years here it would be great especially with Greeny re-signing. Just because of the way he has rebuilt this club and what he has done here you know that it is in good hands for the next three years.
"It does bring that safety net to know the club is going to be OK and makes me more comfortable to stay here. When I first came here I had a lot going on upstairs and he has helped calm that for me.
"In 2015 that is why I was able to play to my strengths and play footy without thinking much, without too much structure but still within structure."
The 27-year-old centre, who played four Origin games for Queensland in 2016-17, scored 13 tries in each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons but has only crossed the stripe twice in his past 26 games.
The winger on his side, Kyle Feldt, has scored 20 tries in that same time frame and an unselfish O'Neill has played a part in his flanker's success.
At his best, O’Neill has dazzling feet and leaves defenders grasping at air. He wants to get back to game-breaking style.
"I have probably gone away from some of my strengths in attack and limited myself to just a good ‘unders line’," he said.
"When I started out my strength was speed and good footwork around the ruck.
"Something that has been brought up here lately is ‘what do you bring to the team and what are you good at’ and I reckon if I can get back to some of my strengths and build off them that is going to help me in my attack.
"Personally I’d like to score a lot more tries. I’d feel a lot better.
"I have to take my game to another level and find other ways I can score and it may mean that I have to go looking for the footy."
With the Cowboys in search of a vital victory against the Gold Coast on Saturday night if O'Neill can provide some spark, it may well reverberate throughout the squad.
"I’m happy when I am playing my best because when I am the team is in sync," he said.
"In 2015 everyone knew exactly what each other was going to do on the footy field and we flowed off each other.
"We played with a lot of confidence and enjoyment. It has been a bit tough to do that this year but hopefully we can recapture that."