Thursday, November 23, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

New Cowboys Coaching Role For St Patrick’s Old Boy Mitchell Dunn

Medically retired North Queensland Cowboys rugby league forward Mitchell Dunn took a trip down memory lane last Friday when he visited his old stamping ground at St Patrick’s College Mackay.

Having bowed out of the NRL as a player due to chronic injuries at the age of 26, the former Mackay Brothers Bulldogs junior has now transitioned into a career in coaching.

Dunn recently commenced a newly created role at the Cowboys as Game Development Coach, with the ex-lock to work with Junior Rugby League coaches throughout North Queensland teaching the coaching practices used at the Cowboys.

St Patrick’s College and the Cowboys enjoy a thriving new partnership.

Dunn - a creative half back for much of his career before switching to the forwards - visited his former school along with Cowboys Head of NRL Elite Pathways Glenn Hall, Elite Pathways coach Steve Sheppard and Strength & Conditioning coach Liam Bartlett.

The Cowboys quartet met up with talented St Patrick’s College centre Norm Campbell and rising forward Declan Grady, who are both contracted to the Cowboys, and top schoolgirl prospects Cianna Faulkner and Keely Logan.

Campbell and Grady starred for the St Patrick’s Year 10 rugby league team that clinched both the Cowboys Challenge Shield and Queensland State Regional Championship titles this year with victories over Ignatius Park College Townsville and Emmaus College Rockhampton.

Dunn has fond memories of his days at St Patrick’s College where he led the school to quarter final appearances in the Confraternity Shield and represented Queensland against NSW in the Under 16 and Under 18 junior Origin series.

St Patrick’s College principal Janelle Agius recalls the gifted five eighth or half back receiving a trophy for Player with Most Potential back in Year 10 as a 15-year-old.

“Mitchell showed a lot of promise as a rugby league junior and student at the College and went on to bigger things,” Mrs Agius reflected.

“He has now gone the full circle and it’s pleasing to know he is putting back into the game as a coaching mentor” she said.

Dunn – who chalked up 58 NRL matches for the Cowboys - also caught up with one of his junior coaches Matthew Paul, the St Patrick’s College Sports Co-ordinator at Mercy Campus.

After graduating from the junior Cutters and Cowboys Academy development pathway systems with Kangaroos forward Reuben Cotter, Dunn skippered the Cowboys’ Under 20 side in 2017 before making his NRL debut the following season.

He played Under 16 Cyril Connell Cup and Under 18 Mal Meninga Cup for the Cutters before moving to Townsville to join the Cowboys and figured in the Townsville Stingers’ Mal Meninga Cup winning side in 2015.

Dunn had two stints with the Cutters in Queensland Cup in 2018-19 and made 13 appearances for the Townsville Blackhawks this season in Hostplus Cup and eight games for the Cowboys before retiring.

He spent his final two playing seasons as a member of the Cowboys Leadership Group and will work closely with Hall and Sheppard and the Cowboys Young Guns squad and Academies programs over the course of the pre-season.

Cowboys General Manager of Football Michael Luck said Dunn was a gifted player with a skillset very few others possess, but his best asset on the field was his footballing brain and his knowledge of the game, which is what he will be able to harness and pass on in this role.

Four of St Patrick’s Aaron Payne Cup-winning first grade side that finished State Championship runners up this year – Queensland Schoolboys half back Jaxon Purdue and hooker Xavier Kerrisk as well as lock forward Kayne Smith and utility back Will Shears – will join the Cowboys in 2024.

By Chris Karas

North Queensland Cowboys enjoy a thriving partnership with St Patrick’s College Mackay. Pictured during last Friday’s visit are College Sports Co-ordinator Mercy Campus Matthew Paul, Cowboys’ Elite Pathways coach Steve Sheppard, Game Development Coach and former St Patrick’s student Mitchell Dunn, Head of NRL Elite Pathways Glenn Hall, Strength & Conditioning coach Liam Bartlett, St Patrick’s College Principal Janelle Agius, St Patrick’s contracted Cowboys Declan Grady and Norm Campbell plus emerging schoolgirl rugby league prospects Cianna Faulkner and Keeley Logan

Cowboys’ Elite Pathways coach Steve Sheppard and Game Development Coach Mitchell Dunn with St Patrick’s College contracted Cowboys Declan Grady and Norm Campbell

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