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Last year's NRL grand final saw history made on many levels. It was the first all-Queensland decider. It was the first grand final to go to golden point. And most importantly for North Queensland supporters, it was the Cowboys' first premiership. 

More than 82,000 fans were on hand at ANZ Stadium to see history happen, including Juanita McDonald, who has been a Cowboys supporter since they entered the competition in 1995 and became a member of the club when she moved to Townsville.  

A few months later, McDonald herself is part of the NRL's new commercial promoting the 2016 Telstra Premiership season, with her joy at the Cowboys' grand final win a key part of the league's campaign to get fans to the game.

"I just love them. They were a team that came into the NRL at a time where there was a lot of debate about adding more teams or not," McDonald told  

"Having a team in North Queensland is amazing because not a lot of people from our area can get down to Brisbane or the Gold Coast. To have our own team that supports that whole area through Queensland right out to the west towards the Northern Territory is special."

The build-up to the momentous grand final was a stressful time for McDonald considering what was at stake for her beloved club. 

"I'm never confident, even if it's a regular season game. I know the boys always play well. They always put 100 per cent into everything and they show that passion during the game."

Things didn't look good for the Cowboys, trailing 16-12 late in the game. For North Queensland supporters, only divine intervention was going to get their side over the line. 

"A minute to go, down by four, I was crying. I was devastated. I was not a happy camper," the diehard fan said.

"It would have to be a miracle if they were going to win the game, but miracles do happen."

Thankfully for McDonald and her fellow fans, Kyle Feldt crossed in the corner as the full-time siren sounded. But even that moment of elation was short lived, as the decision was sent upstairs to the video referees. That's when the nerves peaked.

"I couldn't believe it, and when they kept replaying it over and over again, I was like 'make your decision and put us out of our misery. Tell us what's happening'!"

The North Queensland section of ANZ Stadium didn't have to wait long, with the green light drawing scores level. Just to add to the drama, Johnathan Thurston had to nail a sideline conversion to win the game in regulation.

Alas, the 2015 Dally M Medal winner's kick cannoned into the upright, sending the game into golden point for the first time in grand final history.

Luckily for McDonald and the rest of the North Queensland faithful, fortune favoured the Cowboys in extra-time with Thurston slotting the premiership-winning field goal.  

"The field goal was incredible. He's a huge talent. To see those boys protect JT and for him to be able to slot that field goal was just insane," the Cowboys member said. 

"Being in that crowd, it was just dead silence, but when it went over, the crowd erupted."

McDonald went back to her hotel after the game, and straight away watched a replay of her club's proudest moment. 

Nearly six months later, the mother of two still watches the grand final on a regular basis.

"Since it was played, I reckon a couple of dozen times. Especially that last 10 minutes," she said.

"It was brilliant. It was everything the Cowboys and the community had been working towards. Even now it still gives me goose bumps."

Leading into the new NRL season, rugby league fans can see first-hand just what that night meant to McDonald, with the patriotic fan featuring in the new 'History Happens' television commercial. 

"It was quite shocking that they contacted me in regards to it. I never thought something like that would end up on national TV at all," she proudly said.

"I was wearing my Cowboys polo shirt in the commercial, but I think I'll wear my new premiers jersey to games in 2016."



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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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