Wellington’s incredible recruitment drive has continued with former favourite son, Justin Toomey-White, returning home to link up with the Cowboys.
In arguably the biggest signing the club has made during the off-season, the former Group 11 Player of the Year is back in maroon and white after a hugely successful spell in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership.
He was a regular in the back row as the Wyong Roos, the feeder club for the Sydney Roosters, made the grand final.
The Roos suffered a loss to Penrith there but, in a mark of Toomey-White’s quality, he got to spend pre-season training with the Roosters’ NRL squad.
But now he’s back home and determined to help the new-look Wellington side rise up the standings.
“The Cowboys have always been home and always where my heart’s laid,” Toomey-White, a former Wellington captain-coach, said.
“The town is really excited at the player calibre they’ve signed, and the boys who are sticking around who have always played for Cowboys, it’s very exciting.
“Where the Cowboys are heading with the board and where they’re heading with the club it's a really exciting club to be a part of.
“What’s happening off the field is making the players really keen and ready for when the trials come about in round one at Nyngan.”
Toomey-White, who was the leading try-scorer in Group 11 in 2014, will add real firepower to the Cowboys’ forward pack.
He is the latest marquee signing after the likes of former South Sydney star Nathan Merritt, Adrian ‘AJ’ Davis and Reggie Saunders linked with the club, while former Australian multi-code star Timana Tahu has taken up an off-field role at the Cowboys.
Add that to the new board, headed by president Darren Ah See, and hometown players like Brogan Black, Richard Peckham, Lewis Stanley, Mac Dutfield and Brock Naden and it’s shaping up to be a big year for the Cowboys.
“Justin’s experienced, he’s very talented and it will help the team but also he’s a good bloke at heart,” Ah See said.
“He’s a person who gives 100 per cent both on and off the field and a lot of the younger players look up to him so he will be an asset right across the club.”
While delighted to be a part of the new-look Cowboys and full of praise for captain-coach Aidan Ryan, Toomey-White knows his side is going to have to work if it is to achieve any success.
“The club has done well to get good, experienced players to the club and also really good people that have the club’s best interest at mind,” he said.
“It doesn’t happen overnight but if we put the hard work in the results will slowly but surely show on the field.
“There’s a fair few new players so the connection there will take a bit of time to come together, but if the boys keep training as hard as they have been the club is in good stead.”
The Cowboys play the first trial match of the season on Sunday at Peak Hill.
Ah See confirmed the club won’t play any of its marquee signings of more experienced players, with it more a chance for younger plays to push their case for selection in 2018.