North Queensland's slow start to the season didn't shock Cowboys legend Matt Bowen given the vast change at the club but he's hopeful they're finding a new identity.
Todd Payten's coaching stint began with four losses but the team are now on a three-match winning streak – a feat they last achieved in 2019 – leading into Sunday's clash with the Warriors at Gosford.
Bowen, who spoke to NRL.com at the remote Tiwi College in the Northern Territory as an ambassador for the National Non-Contact Rugby League Program, is excited about what's to come.
"[In the off-season] they had a turnover in the coaching staff, a couple of new players and a totally different structure to what Greeny [Paul Green] had them playing at," the two-time Australian Test fullback said.
"It obviously took a while to build that camaraderie and combinations with different halves and the playing group. We've seen it over the last three weeks and hopefully, they can keep doing it.
"[In recent years] we lost Johnno [Thurston], Matty Scott and now Morgo [Michael Morgan] is retired and Gavin Cooper. Guys that had been there a while.
"It's a changing of the guard with different players stepping into new roles [like] big Jase [Taumalolo] being captain
"It can change a club. But hopefully with the last three wins now they can build some confidence and look past those [former] players."
Bowen, who still works for North Queensland in the community, said he hasn't had a lot to do with Payten but has been impressed by him.
Warriors v Cowboys - Round 8
"I see him [Payten] around within the club. He's doing a fair job, so I think everyone respects him for that," he added.
"He's pretty outspoken to the players but all he wants is the best for them and the best for the team. I think that's starting to show now."
Payten has already made major moves by recently signing Sharks veteran Chad Townsend and Broncos prodigy Tom Dearden to link in the halves on three-year deals beginning in 2022.
"It's very exciting. Especially Chaddy Townsend – a premiership-winning halfback," 39-year-old Bowen said.
"Tommy's only young and no doubt he'll learn off him. It's nice to see the Cowboys are attracting players to come north. Winning helps."
Bowen had a mortgage on North Queensland's No.1 jersey throughout his illustrious 270-game NRL career, which ended after 2013 when he headed to England to play for Wigan.
But there's been plenty of change at fullback in recent times.
Scott Drinkwater started this season in the custodian's role but injuries forced him to the halves in round three with Valentine Holmes returning to his favoured position at the back in place of him.
Holmes has rediscovered some strong form and Bowen believes the marquee man can lock down the role long-term.
"Val's been playing well the last three weeks. He's probably been one of the reasons they've been winning," Bowen said.
Holmes with the vision, Feldt the finish
"He's been confident getting back to fullback and is starting to get his match fitness back again.
"They've got a fair few [fullbacks] coming through. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is a fullback and winger and he's been playing in the centres.
"They've got a fair few to choose from which is good for any club."
NRL Magic Round Brisbane 1-Day & 3-Day Passes are now on sale with eight massive games across round 10 at Suncorp Stadium this May. With the league's best players all heading to Brisbane, you'd hate to miss it! Tickets at NRL.com/Tickets