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North Queensland hooker Rory Kostjasyn has put his hand up to help defend the Cowboys' one and only piece of silverware at the 2015 NRL Auckland Nines tournament.

With the Auckland Nines jersey launch on Thursday unveiling all 16 NRL club jerseys – Kostjasyn was essentially the crowning jewel of the presentation – he was the final player to strut down the catwalk and brought with him the prized rainbow-waved trophy in hand.

Kostjasyn is keen to defend the Cowboys' title over the two day weekend jam-packed full of rugby league action, and was happy to be the centre of attention in place of club captain Gavin Cooper.

"It was a bit of a laugh. Captain Coops couldn't be here so I had to step in, but it was all good," Kostjasyn told

"I'd like to go over there again. I really enjoyed it. I thought the atmosphere and the crowd at Eden Park were outstanding, so hopefully I get to go because I'll be putting my hand up.

"For us as a playing group, it is a bit of fun. It's a great party atmosphere over there and it's something we're all looking forward to."

Looking back on the Cowboys' winning campaign, Kostjasyn said how big a surprise it was for them to even make the final - the North Queensland outfit admit they were lucky just to get out of the group stage. 

After going down to the Sea Eagles 17-8 and the Warriors 28-23, the Cowboys scraped through to the quarter finals on points differential after dismantling Canberra 24-0.

"We were woeful and to be honest, we didn't think we were going to make it out of the pool stage, but we got on to a bit of a roll," Kostjasyn said. 

"We weren't going well at the beginning of the competition, but before we knew it we were in the final and we took it out which was a good experience and everyone enjoyed it."

While the Nines will fast come to forefront of the Cowboys' minds, the fun and games of a title defence at the tournament is currently on the backburner, Kostjasyn revealed the club is currently focused on getting plenty of yards under their belts in the Townsville heat before Christmas. 

"The [pre-season] has been hard work but everyone is getting through it and getting some good work done, so we're pretty happy with how it's going at the moment," he said.

"[The heat of Townsville] is one of those things you can't change, you just have to go out there and deal with it. It's hot, but you know it is always going to be the case once you sign up with the club.

"We'll start looking towards the Nines when we're back after Christmas."


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