Changing the old guard to new and turning North Queensland's fortunes around has always been the plan of Cowboys general manager Micheal Luck.
With this in mind, the Cowboys aren't getting ahead of themselves despite their impressive start in 2022.
Since club legends Jonathan Thurston, Gavin Cooper and Matt Scott delivered a premiership in 2015, and a shock run to the grand final two years later, the club hit a barren patch.
Four consecutive bottom-four finishes abruptly ended the most successful era the Cowboys have endured since its inception into the NRL in 1995.
After just seven wins in 2021, coach Todd Payten has led his side to eight wins through 11 rounds this season, including six in a row.
Now a trip to Sydney for the first time this season beckons in their biggest test yet, against premiers Penrith.
But even as Payten noted a "buzz" about his side this week, Luck told AAP it's all about progression as a club.
"We always thought there'd be a transition year or two while we went from farewelling the old guard that took us through so many great years from 2013-2017," he said.
"What we've had to do is sort of rebuild the foundation of what makes a successful footy side and we knew we had these wonderfully talented young players that have come through our system, we just needed to add some good guys in there and that that will complement their development."
The likes of Murray Taulagi, Jeremiah Nanai, Heilum Luki, Reuben Cotter and Tom Dearden have all emerged as genuine first graders in the new-look Cowboys, with veterans Chad Townsend, Peta Hiku and Jason Taumalolo the glue that brings the group together.
With such a young playing group and their first sustained success in years, Luck is adamant the club still has room to grow.
"Honestly, I still think we're still a fair way away from being as strong as Melbourne, Penrith, Parramatta, the Roosters from a whole club perspective.
"The motivation is to give our club and our community a side to be proud of, and play the sort of footy that the North Queensland public value and want the team to represent.
"We're not under any illusions that this is the finished product, we've still got a lot of work to do to get the club up to the standard where we believe it can be."
Australian Associated Press
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