Maroons greats laud Cowboys' 'unsung hero'
Two of Queensland's greatest ever centres have lauded the performances of who they describe as the Cowboys' unsung hero… and he's a NSW Blue to boot.
The rock in a North Queensland backline brimming with exciting young talent, Kane Linnett was switched from the left to the right earlier in the season to aid Javid Bowen's acclimatisation into the top grade but performed so strongly that Cowboys coach Paul Green opted to keep him there when Justin O'Neill returned in Week Two of the Telstra Premiership Finals Series.
Last week against the Roosters Linnett scored the try that edged his side in front midway through the second half and then after the Roosters responded it was Linnett who provided the final pass for Kyle Feldt's spectacular four-pointer that set them on their way to the NRL Grand Final.
One of five players to have appeared in every game for the Cowboys this season, Linnett's nine line breaks are fourth for North Queensland and along with his assuredness in defence makes him an under-appreciated part of the Cowboys squad according to former Queensland great Brent Tate.
"'Kano' has probably been one of the unsung heroes of the Cowboys team to be honest," Tate told NRL.com.
"He's so reliable and that's the great thing about him, you know what you're going to get each week.
"Defensively he's rock solid and there aren't too many outside backs that can do what he does with his carries out of trouble so he's been excellent."
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Linnett's form over the past fortnight in particular has also caught the eye of arguably Queensland's greatest ever right centre, Justin Hodges.
Hodges played 24 Origins for the Maroons in his 16-year career and believes Linnett has accepted a greater sense of responsibility when his team needed it the most.
"He's been a lot better because he was one of the guys that needed to step up in the absence of those other guys," Hodges said of the injuries to Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott in particular.
"In the last couple of weeks he's done that which has been good to see. He's been there for a long time now so he's a senior player and the last couple of weeks he's really stood up."
Hodges also praised the 28-year-old's ability to make the switch from the left side where he has spent the majority of his time since joining the Cowboys over to the right.
"It is difficult," Hodges said of the switch.
"If you're used to one position and you swap sides it is different.
"It's like being a right-foot kicker and then all of a sudden you start to learn to kick with your left. It is awkward and takes some time to get used to.
"The switch has done him well.
"Because it is a little bit uncomfortable for them (Linnett and Justin O'Neill) it's probably made them prepare better and made them more aware.
"Sometimes when you are so used to one position you can get into some bad habits because you are comfortable where you are but you switch it over and you're in a position where you're not as comfortable as you once were.
"It can make a big difference for you."
Tate, also renowned for his defensive capabilities, believes leaving Linnett on the right has been a master stroke from coach Paul Green as it has lessened the defensive pressure placed on Michael Morgan by opposition teams.
"That would have been the logical thing to do," Tate said of switching Linnett and O'Neill back to their usual positions, "but with the emergence of 'Morgo' and how well he's playing and how good a defensive player Kane is I'd imagine he's left Kano on that side defensively to help Morgo.
"He's a bit ofa bigger body than 'Juzzy' (O'Neill) and because he is so deadly with the ball at the moment a lot more traffic is going at Morgo so that would be the reason for putting him there as well.
"Morgo is pretty quiet defensively and Juzzy is too so it just makes sense that 'Greeny' has left them where they are.
"If the boys are comfortable and happy, that's the main thing."