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Cowboys endure new year grief

Gavin Cooper was frank in his assessment of the Cowboys' first session for 2014. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Gavin Cooper doesn't like Malcolm.

In fact, no member of the North Queensland squad is particularly enamoured by the conditioning drill meted out by new coach Paul Green for a sub-standard performance on the training paddock.

With the 36-degree heat that enveloped Townsville on Monday making it a brutal start to 2014 for the Cowboys squad, spending too much quality time doing 'Malcolms' at the end of the session left every player in no doubt that it was time to get back to business.

To complete one 'Malcolm' players start in the middle of a 20-metre grid by lying on their stomach. When the coach says 'Go' they run backwards 10m, hit the deck, get up, run through the 20m, hit the deck again and run the 10m back to the middle.

And repeat.

"I don't know if you were watching the last little bit there but that was all on us, too much dropped ball for the first session back," said a frank and slightly over-heated Cooper.

"It was some under-12s stuff. We stuffed up but hopefully that little blowout at the end, everyone will learn from it and we'll get better.

"It's Monday-itis we've got. It happened a few Mondays last year, I think we had too big a weekends but this time we've had two weeks and I think the boys were looking at getting into it at the end of the week. Hopefully that's sparked us up. I know it's made me a little bit more tired and hopefully we're better for it."

Perhaps even more dreaded than any further meetings with Malcolm in future is the fact that with more extensive video analysis under Green Cowboys players will be able to watch back just how poorly they performed on day one of their 2014 campaign.

It's part of the new regime under Green and Cooper believes that even though World Cup stars such as Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate are not back on deck for a further week, the squad is well placed just a month out from their first trial game.

"Everything has got a purpose," Cooper said of the changes under Green thus far. "We do a lot more video now, we video our sessions, nearly every session has had some part of it taped so we do a lot of learning on the run.

"Everyone's buying into it and I think our opposed session against the 20s before the break really showed where we've taken big steps forward."

Rather than lamenting the absence of the side's biggest stars during the toughest period of the pre-season, 28-year-old Cooper believes it has given other players in the squad the chance to assert themselves and take a prominent role within the squad.

"Having the World Cup boys away, it's hurt us in some areas but it's made a lot of the other boys stand up and take control of a position that they wouldn't normally get a crack at," he said.

"Hopefully when the Aussie boys get back next week our boys lift instead of just waiting for those boys to fill in their spots."
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