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After admitting they fell short of the conditioning standards required in their inaugural NRLW season last year, the Cowboys’ playing group have spent the off-season doing their best to ensure that won't be an excuse in 2024. 

A summer dedicated to sweating it out on under the Townsville sun and inside strength and conditioning coach Daniel Strickland’s CrossFit gym led into the start of Queensland's BMD Premiership, with 15 members of the North Queensland squad combining to help the Mackay Cutters win that competition in May. 

Playmaker Tahlulah Tillett told that following last year’s two-win campaign, the squad vowed to take full advantage of the majority of them now being based in Townsville and to ensure they arrived at pre-season training ready to go this time around. 

“The way last season went wasn’t the way we wanted it to. When we looked back on it we just said to each other that we didn’t want to be feeling like this again in 12 months’ time,” she said.

Conditioning was our downfall last year. We lacked just having that mental resilience to push through when the game was in a grind.

Tahlulah Tillett

“That’s been a big focus so far. A lot of us girls live in Townsville permanently now, so it was a good opportunity for us to work really hard together with Daniel.

“We are definitely in a better place than we were last year in terms of fitness and conditioning.”

Conditioning has been the key focus of North Queensland's pre-season ahead of their second NRLW campaign.
Conditioning has been the key focus of North Queensland's pre-season ahead of their second NRLW campaign. ©

It’s also meant the squad has been able to dedicate much of the first half of their six-week pre-season to refining aspects of their on-field play and adjusting to the style of new head coach Ricky Henry.  

After North Queensland finished 2023 with the competition’s second-worst record in both attack and defence, Henry – who has spent the last four years coaching the Kiwi Ferns – said there’s been a focus on playing a more intentional brand of footy this year. 

The evolution of the NRLW

“That could only happen if the girls were fit enough and had looked after themselves, which is what they have done,” Henry said.

“We have needed to work on football IQ and the style that we want to play, so there’s been a lot of work and thought from my end to make sure we have the right plan to spread throughout the group.

“From there it’s going to be about us executing it under pressure.”

The Cowboys will play a pre-season trial against the Titans in Cairns on July 14, ahead of their season proper kicking off with a trip to face the Sharks at PointsBet Stadium a fortnight later.

Match: Sharks v Cowboys

Round 1 -


home Team



away Team


Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • WatchNRL
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