Cowboys recruitment drive still in motion

North Queensland officials insist that their mass 2011 recruitment drive isn’t over yet after revealing that Broncos prop Ashton Sims was the latest player to agree to head to Townsville next season.<br><br>Sims will become the Cowboys’ fourth major signing when he puts pen to paper in the coming days and is the first step in the club’s quest to rebuild their stuttering forward pack.<br><br>Far from completing a signing spree that has already netted speedsters Brent Tate, Antonio Winterstein and Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa, the Cowboys have at least three more high-profile forwards on their shopping list, with Melbourne Storm duo Sika Manu and Adam Blair the focus.<br><br>“It is still a bit up in the air there and it all depends what happens with Greg Inglis but we’ve had a look at some of the Storm boys,” North Queensland’s general manager of football Dean Lance says.<br><br>“Obviously with the players they’ve already let go, if they lose Inglis as well they won’t let anyone else go, and that’s what we’ve been hearing. But we’re keeping an eye on it.<br><br>“We need to rebuild our forward pack now, and that’s what we’re doing. We’ve got a bit of work to do there still but we’re working on it. <br><br>“We’re looking for a few numbers.”<br><br>Sims will join younger brother Tariq at the Cowboys in 2011 after being forced out of a Brisbane side more focused on retaining its burgeoning young talent, having already re-signed Matt Gillett, Ben Te’o, Ben Hunt, Josh Hoffman, Mitchell Dodds, Gerard Beale, Corey Norman and veteran prop Shane Tronc.<br><br>The 25-year-old has played just nine games in the top grade this season and has spent the past three weeks playing for Queensland Cup side Norths.<br><br>But the Cowboys – who will farewell Luke O’Donnell, Carl Webb, Steve Rapira, Steve Southern, Manase Manuokafoa and Antonio Kaufusi at the end of the year – believe Sims is a step in the right direction as they look to put their disastrous 2010 campaign behind them.<br><br>“I think he is a terrific signing,” said Lance, who along with coach Neil Henry has also expressed an interest in former Storm back-rower Dallas Johnson.<br><br>“The club is looking to rebuild. We’re very happy with the quality of the backs we’ve got coming in – three good-quality outside backs – and now we’re looking at our forwards.<br><br>“It’s a fair list of guys that are leaving so we’re rebuilding our forward pack and we see Ashton and Tariq as two good guys to help do that. <br><br>“Ashton in particular has plenty of experience and is keen to play alongside his younger brother.<br><br>“He was a good player at St George [Illawarra] and I think he has been a bit unfortunate at the Broncos not to be in their team every week but they have a pretty good bunch of players.”<br><br>Sims told NRL.com that he was disappointed to be leaving the Broncos but had always intended on playing on in the NRL.<br><br>“I can honestly say that I’ve played some of my best footy up here and I could never say anything bad about the club,” he said. “They’ve been great to me since day one. <br><br>“I had a few options but I wanted to stay in the NRL. I just turned 25 a couple of months ago and I think I still have plenty to offer.”