Spina: Sacrifices and passion will guide Cowboys through
THIS is not the first time rugby league in North Queensland has fought to survive.
And inaugural Cowboys captain Laurie Spina believes the experience of building a club from the ground up can be implemented to get through these trying times.
The coronavirus pandemic has shrouded rugby league in uncertainty. But the North Queensland legend knows that from the ashes stability can be restored - with perhaps an even more grateful and passionate foundation to follow.
While financial burdens have resulted in mass staff and pay cuts across all levels of rugby league, Spina said in the early days of the Cowboys it was not a matter of income that kept the team surging forward.
It was the support, resilience and mentality of the fans in the north.
"There wasn't a lot of money back when we first started off and I think the people of North Queensland are strong enough and support footy enough to build when things are down," Spina said.
"We always thought because there was so much support from all over we would survive and I feel no doubt that's the same now if everyone can band together.
"It'll be very different because there'll be a lot of losses in revenue and everything so the corporate dollar might take a bit of a cut.
"But I'm sure the really good supporters in North Queensland will be able to build, I'm sure of that."
Spina recalled the support the Townsville and wider North Queensland community had for grassroots events such as the Foley Shield as the catalyst for such endearing support for the then burgeoning franchise.
Back in 1994 the Cowboys were very much building from the ground up but the Herbert River Crushers champion said 2020 onwards would be a very different beast given its current footprint in the game.
But, as was the case 25 years ago, it will take sacrifices from across the board.
While the NRL has stamped a return date of May 28 for the competition, it appears as though Queensland-based sides will have to remain in New South Wales for the duration of the proposed 15-round season.
Away from the game players have families and foundations in North Queensland, and such a relocation would take a monumental showing of willpower from the playing group.
However to help guide rugby league out of the COVID-19 plight and continue to make a living, Spina said that may be an unfortunate reality they will have to take on.
"Everyone really wanted something (in 1994) and if you really want something hard enough you make sacrifices," he said.
"The game itself back then was really important, everyone really wanted a team in the national competition and there was a lot of sacrifices from everyone.
"If you put that to task now - the love of the game and passion for your team and for North Queensland - you can use that now.
"It'll be tough if the Queensland players have to move down south but that's something I'm sure they'll do for the game.
"Sacrifices will be from everyone and that's certainly a big one the players will have to do."
Originally published as Spina: Sacrifices and passion will guide Cowboys through