Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Test selection may have upped the ante in the hunt for off-contract enforcer Carl Webb, but North Queensland boss Peter Parr says it won't change the terms of their "decent offer".
Parr could not hide his delight over Webb's selection for next month's Centenary Test, delivering an emotional tribute to the forward.
But the North Queensland chief executive said Webb's surprise international call-up "doesn't mean we have any more money to offer to him".
Parr began negotiations with Webb's manager Sam Ayoub last week.
"I told him we were interested - how long the process takes for Carl to make a decision I'm not sure," Parr told AAP.
The Bulldogs are believed to be interested in Webb's signature and it is understood the Cronulla Sharks are circling.
Parr and Ayoub agreed to hold off contract talks at the start of the season to let the North Queensland hard man concentrate on his footy.
The approach has worked a treat with Webb joining Cowboys teammate Johnathan Thurston in May 9's SCG showdown with the Kiwis.
"Just because he has been picked in the Australian team doesn't mean we have any more money to offer to him than what we have previously set aside and it doesn't mean the salary cap has gone up," Parr said.
"It doesn't mean we have a different budget.
"We have always had a high opinion of him and budgeted what we think he is worth to the club and that will have to remain - we think it is a fair, reasonable and decent offer."
But Parr said he won't be playing the "loyalty card" to Webb who went from Origin bit player to full international after heading north in 2005.
"I will be telling him exactly what we've got to offer, why we've got that much and how we see him - it will be up to him to make the decision," he said.
"It's difficult now in this day and age to play the loyalty card.
"This club has been very good to Carl but Carl has been very good to us.
"We will do all we can to keep him and I think we will come up with a competitive offer but you can only offer what you can afford."
Parr was still buzzing after Webb put a costly run of injuries behind him and finally earned an international call-up.
"I couldn't be more delighted for him, I've known him for a long time and he is a wonderful bloke," he said.
"I have no doubt he would have played for Australia last year if he had not broken his jaw.
"And he would have been selected at the end of last year if he had not injured his calf in the semi-finals against the Bulldogs.
"He's had to overcome some difficulties in his career through injury and suspension that has cost him - but I will tell you one thing he has never complained about his lot in life."
Meanwhile, former Junior Kiwi Ben Vaeau, 25, has been added to the Cowboys' bench for their clash against South Sydney as insurance for Jacob Lillyman.
Origin backrower Lillyman will contest a dangerous throw charge at the judiciary on Wednesday night.