Auckland Nines: Mixed emotions for boys from North Queensland

Some NRL players and coaches believe extending the tournament to minimise the number of games per day could reduce the injury toll from the Nines.

It was a historic day for North Queensland, who finally added a piece of silverware to their empty trophy cabinet with a 16-7 win over the Broncos in the final.

But it was a tournament of mixed emotions for the club, overcoming the heartache of a likely season-ending knee injury to fullback Lachlan Coote to begin their 20th season in the premiership and Paul Green's tenure as head coach in style.

The Cowboys and Broncos had to play four games in the space of six hours on day two of the tournament, with Broncos coach Anthony Griffin calling for the NRL to consider stretching the tournament in the future.

''If I had one suggestion, maybe four games on one day is too many,'' Griffin said.

''Everything else has been sensational. It's been a magnificent promotion. From the time we landed, the way the organisers dealt with the teams and looked after us has been first class.''

The Cowboys' Nines skipper Gavin Cooper echoed the sentiment of Griffin, and believes the NRL's plans to expand the number of teams in the tournament should lead to the competition being run over more days.

''I don't know about playing four games in one day,'' he said.

''If more clubs get on board I think it might have to stretch over a couple more days. I think the Broncos were only down to three reserves there at the end. I'd like to see JT [Johnathan Thurston] in this format. He makes 13 people look silly so I reckon he can do it to nine.''

In an all-Queensland final, the Cowboys overcame the Broncos to lay claim to the right as the NRL's first Nines champions and secure the club's first piece of silverware in their 20th year.

With Ben Barba sitting out the final with an ankle injury he suffered in the semi-final victory over Cronulla, the Broncos were no match for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys, one of the weaker teams in the competition on paper, stunned the large and vocal crowd at Eden Park with an upset victory of the New Zealand Warriors in the semi-final to progress to the decider

But the Cowboys' Nines triumph was marred by the injury to their newest signing.

''It's terrible when anyone gets injured, but he's done his ACL, which pretty much means he's out for the year,'' Green said.

''When that happens early on in seasons it's just tragic. Pre-seasons are so tough physically, and to have yours taken away from you really is gut-wrenching. Particularly for Cootey, he's new to the club and keen to impress and make a really good start. He's worked so hard in the pre-season so I'm really disappointed for him personally, and for us as a club it's a massive loss.''

Despite winning just one of their three games in their pool matches, their superior for and against record put the Cowboys through in second spot in their pool behind the Warriors, thanks to Canberra's victory over Manly.

''I can't express this enough, we came here just to play the games and go home,'' Cowboys prop James Tamou said.

''We thought it was over when we played the Warriors today. We honestly didn't expect any of this, but we'll take it. We had our very first Nines session only when we flew over here - that's how much we prepared for it. We didn't know where to stand on the kick-off, stuff like that, and we sort of still don't.''

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