The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have extended head coach Neil Henry’s contract until the end of the 2014 season on the eve of his 150th match as an NRL coach.
Attempting to become the first coach to lead the Cowboys to three consecutive finals appearances, Henry last weekend brought up his century of games in charge of North Queensland in their 24-12 defeat of Canterbury in Gosford.
Henry first joined the Cowboys as an assistant coach in 2003 before joining Canberra as their NRL head coach in 2007 and 2008.
He was named as the Dally M Coach of the Year in ’08 and returned to the Cowboys as head coach in 2009.
His contract extension will bring his total number of years at North Queensland to 10 and his stint as head coach to six years, making him the third-longest serving head coach at an NRL club behind Melbourne’s Craig Bellamy and Gold Coast’s John Cartwright.
Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain said the coach’s contract extension recognised his achievement in making the 2011 and 2012 finals series and building a squad capable of challenging for the 2013 premiership.
“Neil has taken this club forward considerably and we look forward to him continuing in his role beyond this season,” Mr Jourdain said.
“He has done a fantastic job in getting the club into the finals over the last two seasons and we are looking forward to further success this year.”
The coach’s contract extension comes in the same week that two-time Dally M Medal winner Johnathan Thurston re-signed with the Cowboys until the end of the 2017 season, joining fellow co-captain Matthew Scott and Test prop James Tamou in committing long-term to North Queensland.
“My links here go back some time now and it remains a huge honour to be the coach of the Cowboys,” Henry said.
“I’m pleased the club has seen fit to extend my time here and it also gives some stability to the other members of the coaching staff who have been working hard to turn North Queensland into a premiership contender.
“Everyone can see further success on the horizon, especially with the calibre of players in this current squad, and when that happens, I’m sure we’ll start talks on a further contract extension.
“In the meantime, I’ll be doing everything I can to give everyone connected with this club what they want – sustained success and a title.”