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Cowboys recruit Valentine Holmes.

The strategic recruitment of strike weapons Valentine Holmes and Esan Marsters in the outside backs has the Cowboys on track to regain their attacking mojo.

In 2019 the Cowboys scored just 378 points, the third-fewest in the league and the club's worst output in a 24-round competition since 1998.

That followed on from 2018 where they scored just 449 points, a marked downturn since the 2014-2016 seasons where the Cowboys scored 584 points or more on each occasion.

The retirement of Johnathan Thurston at the end of 2018 left a gaping hole in the club's creative capabilities but last year just about everything that could go wrong for the Cowboys did from an attacking point of view.

Ben Barba was sacked before a ball was kicked and Nene Macdonald played just five matches before he was shown the door.

Winger Kyle Feldt, the club's leading try scorer for the past four seasons, missed the first eight rounds with injury.

Holmes aims to surpass 2018 form

Te Maire Martin sadly suffered a bleed on the brain and played just seven games before being forced into retirement last month. Former Australian representative Justin O'Neill, who scored eight tries in eight games last year, ruptured his spleen in round 11 at Canberra and was absent for the rest of the year.

That's what went wrong but a lot has gone right on the recruitment front since.

First up the Cowboys made the mid-season recruitment of Melbourne's Scott Drinkwater who has since had a full pre-season with the club. The addition of Maroons and Kangaroos flyer Holmes and former Tigers centre Marsters was all part of coach Paul Green's masterplan to reignite the attack.

"Last year there was a fair bit of strike that we lost and it was certainly an area that we had to strengthen up. [The recruitment] was certainly deliberate," Green told

"A lot of our creative-type players we just didn't have on the paddock anywhere near enough so last year we had to work really hard for points and create a lot of points.

"There weren't a lot of guys who could create something out of nothing for us, which takes a lot of energy out of you when you are playing in that way."

Holmes's 66 tries in 105 NRL games for the Sharks is impressive reading enough. Add his 17 tries in 13 Tests and 12 tries in just six Origin games and it paints the picture of a player who can have a similar impact to club legend Matt Bowen at the back.

His transition from NFL-style training with the New York Jets to NRL preparation with the Cowboys has progressed seamlessly.

"Regardless of what position Valentine played he had scored high teens or 20 tries a year and you don't fluke that consistently," Green said.

"He has scored regularly at Origin level and has scored a hat-trick for Queensland and not too many players can say they have done that.

"He is a high-quality player in a position we needed to strengthen. Our performance staff did a really good job of transitioning him into the training we were doing.

"We got him a few weeks before Christmas and he had to adapt to the heat after coming from a cold winter in New York but he's done really well."

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Marsters has also impressed Green in his first pre-season at the club.

"I knew he was a good player in attack and in particular can get you some second phase happening with a very good offload but he also has good feet, both ways, so again he makes us a bit more dangerous on the edges."

Green acknowledged Drinkwater's "attacking spark" and he will give the coach strike in the halves and options at the back when Holmes is out of action during the Origin period.

O'Neill's return will be virtually like a new signing and with Feldt a strong chance of making his Maroons debut this year the backline has a lot more threat about it.

If all goes to plan captain Michael Morgan, who also missed most of July last year with concussion, will have more creative players around him and will shoulder less of the burden to create attacking opportunities.

The Cowboys have also recruited 21-year-old centre/fullback Connolly Lemuelu from the Bulldogs. Lemuelu scored eight tries as well as averaging two tackle breaks, two offloads and 127 metres in 21 games for the Bulldogs' Canterbury Cup side last year.

Another outside back of real promise in the Cowboys top squad is 18-year-old Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, a Cairns junior that attended Kirwan State High last year.

Tabuai-Fidow scored 13 tries in just six Mal Meninga Cup games for the Townsville Blackhawks last season.

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