Cowboys CEO hails bonus of home NRL prelim

·3-min read

When Valentine Holmes kicked the golden-point field goal to secure North Queensland a first-ever home NRL preliminary final, it was worth its weight in gold on multiple fronts.

The 32-20 qualifying final win over Cronulla on Saturday night, iced by Holmes in the 92nd minute, will enable the Cowboys to prepare for the home grand final qualifier on Friday week without being disadvantaged by what CEO Jeff Reibel calls the "tyranny of distance".

Reibel said the historic hosting rights were "a just reward" for the hard work and professionalism of the players and coaching staff, and a great payback for members, supporters and sponsors who stuck solid with the club after four lean seasons outside the top eight.

The two-week preparation for the players is the clincher.

In 2015 the Cowboys played away every week of the finals series on their way to the title.

And in 2017 they won three finals on the road before losing to Melbourne in the decider.

Not this time.

The Cowboys suffer just because of their location and it has been worse post-COVID with a reduction in flights.

It led to the club using three different flights to get players and officials to Sydney on Thursday before the Sharks game.

"The challenge of us travelling is real so to have the grand final qualifier at home it takes away that step," Reibel told AAP.

"We took a 6.30am flight home on Sunday morning following the (Cronulla) game in Sydney after we were up at 4.15am.

"If we don't do that we don't get home until 5pm the day after the game which takes away a full day of rehab and a whole day of what comes next.

"An extra week off after a 92-minute game is not a bad thing and we will need to manage the players' workloads."

Reibel said the region was "abuzz" with excitement ahead of a showdown with the winner of Friday night's knockout final between Parramatta and Canberra.

The NRL will put tickets on sale next Monday morning for the Cowboys' members, then their opposition's members and the general public.

"They will get snapped up quite quickly," Reibel said.

"We are fortunate to run the strongest corporate hospitality program in the NRL so there will be an opportunity for our corporate hospitality and sponsor partners to invest in corporate facilities."

Reibel credited head coach Todd Payten and his staff for providing the environment for the players to shine, and for adapting after a 15th-placed finish last year.

Payten signed a three-year deal in 2021 in his first head coaching role in the NRL after previously being an assistant coach at the Cowboys before a stint at the Warriors.

"Todd is a wonderful communicator and technical coach," Reibel said.

"The way he and his coaching staff approached what we needed to do, and the change we needed to implement from the middle of last year onwards, has got the best out of our players."