Drinkwater makes most of No.1 opportunity

·2-min read

Scott Drinkwater has revealed how an off-season shoulder injury that cost him a spot in North Queensland's NRL side proved to be the ultimate blessing in disguise.

The Cowboys fullback will enter Friday night's preliminary final against Parramatta as one of the most vital cogs in the Cowboys attack, setting up 21 tries in as many games this year.

The ex-Melbourne fullback also has the security of a new four-year contract in his back pocket and is set to be the Cowboys' No.1 for a long time.

But the situation could not have been any further removed from Drinkwater's prospects a year ago.

The 25-year-old looked set to be the odd man out when the Cowboys signed Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden in the space of a week in April, 2021.

Drinkwater had hoped to retain his spot in the halves, before his chances took another hit when he suffered an unpublicised issue in his AC joint just before Christmas.

It ruled him out close to a month of training, and he was forced to start the season in Queensland Cup after being overlooked for the NRL.

"I always backed myself (when the signings were made) and I always backed myself during pre-season," Drinkwater told AAP.

"But it came down to a silly mistake for myself during the Christmas break where I injured myself.

"I couldn't train all of January. So that's where the boys got jump on me. And I copped that on the chin and just worked hard and was team-first.

"I probably had a feeling after that I wasn't going to make the NRL team."

But by Drinkwater's own admission, the injury proved a blessing in disguise.

He was left out for the first month of the season, before Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow suffered a knee injury.

At that point Drinkwater was recalled to NRL as a fullback, barely looking back with the Cowboys winning 16 of 21 games since the shift.

Notably, he has added an extra option for Townsend and Dearden in the Cowboys' attack while not having to defend in the front line.

It comes after years of speculation around his best playing position, with Drinkwater admitting he has struggled to focus on one role previously in his career.

"For sure it has worked out better this way," Drinkwater told AAP.

"I'm just playing fullback and worried about playing fullback and not worried about anything else. And Tommy's the same.

"We're both young and we got an experienced premiership-winning halfback who is controlling everything.

"A lot of criticism came about with Chaddy signing with our club.

"But day one, before he even trained, playing golf with him I just knew he's what we needed and who we needed and how much love he has for the game."