Nene Macdonald of the Dragons during the Round 23 NRL match between Wests Tigers and the St George-Illawarra Dragons at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, Saturday, August 18, 2018. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Nene Macdonald of the Dragons during the Round 23 NRL match between Wests Tigers and the St George-Illawarra Dragons at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, Saturday, August 18, 2018. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Nene to return home a Cowboy

DUAL international Wendell Sailor believes Cowboys signing Nene Macdonald has just scratched the surface of his talent, highlighting consistency as the only barrier between becoming a "world-class finisher".

The Cowboys continued their recruiting spree by signing the 24-year-old on a three-year deal from 2019, after St George Illawarra released him from the final year of his deal on compassionate grounds.

His signing comes on the back of Ben Barba's for next season, ensuring the Cowboys will have far more strike-power after a lack of speed out wide was exposed this year.

Cairns product Macdonald, who attended Kirwan High School, has developed into one of the game's best finishers and scored 10 tries in 23 games for the Dragons this year.

Stalwart backs Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein and Lachlan Coote have moved on, giving the club significant room to chase big names.

"I'm sorry to see him leave the Dragons. I don't think Nene knows how good he can be," Sailor said.

"(Cowboys coach) Paul Green will be good for him and I just hope he realises for such a big guy he has so much time and skill when he plays.

"I remember when a young Lote Tuqiri came through and he just needed some discipline in and around his game.

"I'm not putting him in Lote's class, but he can be a world-class finisher if he gets more consistency."

Sailor said Barba and Macdonald would ensure the Cowboys had far more X-factor next season.

 

 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — JUNE 11: Nene MacDonald of the Dragons dives in to score a try during the round 14 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on June 11, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — JUNE 11: Nene MacDonald of the Dragons dives in to score a try during the round 14 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on June 11, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"(Cowboys winger) Gideon Gela-Mosby is another player that if he knuckles down too, they've got a very exciting back three."

Barba finished as the competition's leading tryscorer with 28, second for tackle breaks and third for try assists.

Barba has only signed for one year, giving the Cowboys scope to chase Townsville product and Cronulla fullback Valentine Holmes from 2020 onwards.

If Barba can reproduce the form that helped guide the Sharks to the 2016 title in his last year in the NRL, the Cowboys will field one of the game's best back threes, with Kyle Feldt a standout this year.

Barba is only the second player in history alongside Gavin Miller to win the Man of Steel and the Dally M Medal.

The Cowboys are also set to lure Souths Logan Magpies centre Dan Russell to the club next year, and they are also confident off-contract flyer Javid Bowen will stay put.

Former Broncos centre Tom Opacic is also set to be officially confirmed as a Cowboy, likely sometime this week.

Cowboys Director of Football Peter Parr said recruiting outside backs for 2019 was a major focus for the club.

"Nene's a very talented athlete and with the retirement of Antonio Winterstein we were keen to add to our outside backs," Parr said.



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