A departing coach, a seething player group, conspiracy theories and a horror result doesn't generally mix for a good time.
But strangely, outgoing North Queensland coach Neil Henry called his playing squad together only days after their controversial 20-18 loss to Cronulla to watch the game again. The purpose? To help absolve referees Matt Cecchin and Henry Perenara of some blame for the loss after they allowed Cronulla to score a try on the seventh tackle. Australian prop James Tamou said Henry wanted to point out situations where the side could have performed better.
''Just to point out factors of what we could've done, should've done,'' Tamou said. ''He takes everything serious and that's what you want in a good coach. You've been kicked out of the finals, there's not much point doing a video session but that's why he is a good coach. Everyone respected him for doing it and so did I.''
Henry and captain Johnathan Thurston were scathing after match-official errors, for the second consecutive season, halted the Cowboys finals charge. Thurston claimed a bias in the NRL against Queensland clubs - going as far as to say there was a ''conspiracy'' against teams outside Sydney. Tamou said tensions had eased after they rewatched the game. ''I had a few days stewing on what could've happened, what should've happened,'' Tamou said. ''Our kicking game wasn't up to scratch like theirs was. They played better than us. I watched the game after that against Manly and they just about won that game. We could've done our part to win the game. The refs made a human error, we had plenty of chances to score and to do this and do that. We looked at it and, after being so angry at the referees for letting in six points, we looked back at the video.''
The loss doubled as Henry's last game as head coach, with his five-year stint at the club ending after he was told he wouldn't see out his one-year contract extension in July. Henry will join the Titans as John Cartwright's assistant coach next year. ''Honestly, he has been the ultimate professional since the news came out of him leaving the club,'' Tamou said. ''It's like it never happened for him. Us boys greet him back with the same respect. We are all sad to see him go. We all tried our best to do something about it, it's just the way it goes. The same sort of thing can happen to players. There's not much you can do with it.''
New Cowboys coach Paul Green spent his first day at the club's Townsville base on Thursday after completing his commitments as assistant coach of the premiership-winning Roosters.
Tamou said he felt a little fortunate to be picked in the Australian 24-man squad for his first World Cup.