The Anzac spirit may be strong at North Queensland but Cowboys coach Paul Green admits it may take something else to lure Kiwi star Benji Marshall to the NRL club.
Anzac Day took on extra significance for the Cowboys on Friday with newly installed halfback Ray Thompson’s father serving in Afghanistan.
Green admitted North Queensland (13th; 2-5 record) was inspired to upset a revitalised Parramatta (8th; 4-3) in Townsville on Saturday after Thompson’s family connection loomed large while attending the dawn service and hosting troops for a Friday club function.
“If we can get the job done Saturday night it will make it all the more memorable,” Green said.
“Townsville is a garrison city so we’ve got a lot of armed forces up here.
“I think it means a little bit more to our community days like Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.”
Back-up hooker Thompson has slotted into the No.7 jersey replacing Robert Lui in the fallout over North Queensland’s controversial last round loss to Manly.
Thompson becomes the latest new face next to co-captain Johnathan Thurston in the halves – but Green all but ruled out code hopper Marshall becoming the next.
Marshall has been linked with Melbourne and Cronulla after being released from Super Rugby club the Auckland Blues this week.
But Green confirmed they had made an official enquiry.
“When a good player like that comes on the market, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t ask the question,” Green said of Marshall.
“I haven’t spoken to him but I would say he would be more keen to stay in Sydney.
“We enquired and that is as far as it has gone.”
Asked what Marshall would add to the Cowboys, Green said: “There is a hell of a lot of stuff that would have to happen for it to come off.
“But Benji Marshall is a great player.
“He has played Tests for New Zealand, won a World Cup, won a premiership, he has some great skills.
“Whatever club he goes for he will add something.”
For now, Green is happy with the man picked beside Thurston – Thompson.
Since Aaron Payne’s retirement at the end of 2012, Thompson had been groomed as a rake.
But back to back disappointing games by Lui proved too much for rookie coach Green.
“I’m looking for a bit more out of our halves and hopefully having Ray there will give us that,” Green said.