North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten answers phone call from Laurie Spina mid-press conference

Cowboys coach Todd Payten is a tough customer but this unexpected phone call had the retired rugby league hardman smiling.

North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten was all smiles when a phone call from inaugural club captain Laurie Spina interrupted his post-match press conference on Saturday night.

Payten had been addressing his side’s 36-16 win over the Newcastle Knights when the unexpected call came through.

“(It’s) big, bad Laurie Spina,” the usually steely coach said with a smile.

Payten picked the phone up mid-presser, much to the amusement of the media in the room.

“Hey Loz, we’re busy mate,” Payten told Spina, “Give five minutes all right? All right. See you, mate.”

Watch every game of Magic Round this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

Spina captained the Cowboys in 1995, their first year in the NRL (then known as the ARL) but retired at the end of that season.

He has remained involved in rugby league in North Queensland and his son Ben played 16 games for the Cowboys during Paul Green’s tenure as head coach.

Saturday night’s win was North Queensland’s fourth in a row but despite the result, Payten said the bunker had left him frustrated by overturning a try in the second half.

Cowboys captain Jason Taumalolo crashed over in the 65th minute but the bunker rescinded the four-pointer, ruling that young gun Jeremiah Nanai had impeded Newcastle’s Lachlan Fitzgibbon in backplay.

According to the NRL rule book, a decoy runner must not run at the chest or outside shoulder of a defender and initiate contact.

But Payten said Fitzgibbon made a defensive decision to come out of the line and target Nanai, which does not constitute an obstruction.

“The language that the bunker used was confusing, to say that Jeremiah initiated contact,” Payten said.

“It was Fitzgibbon who jammed on outside in and made contact with (Nanai’s) inside shoulder and deviated three or four meters off the line. That’s why I’m so confused.

“I’m really disappointed again that (the try) was taken off us. It’s consistently ruled inconsistently.

“It’s different from game to game. That’s what I don’t like.”

Payten’s comments came after Ricky Stuart accused the bunker of “damaging the fabric” of rugby league with its inability to make correct decisions.

In his second season at North Queensland, Payten appears firmly in the running for Dally M Coach of the Year honors; the Cowboys had been tipped to struggle in 2022 but Payten has them in the top four after nine rounds.

He’s unlocked Taumalolo after criticism of the way he used the side’s marquee player in 2021 and is also getting the best out of new recruit Chad Townsend, who made his 200th NRL appearance on Saturday night.

Across nine rounds, the Cowboys have conceded only three more points than the reigning premiers Penrith and are starting to fire in attack as well, scoring 30-plus points in each of their last three games.

Back1 of 2

Leave a Comment