Mikaele makes every post a winner in new Cowboys home

Alex Mitchell |

North Queensland’s new enforcer Thomas Mikaele hopes he has found his “forever home”.
North Queensland’s new enforcer Thomas Mikaele hopes he has found his “forever home”.

Thomas Mikaele might be at a fourth club in two years, but he feels like he’s ready to put down roots in North Queensland.

A knee injury for bench forward Coen Hess has Mikaele firmly on the Cowboys’ round-one selection radar, particularly after jagging two tries, four offloads and 54m in a limited trial stint against Canberra on the weekend.

That display earned him elevation off his development contract straight to a top-30 deal, just a couple of months after wondering if he’d even have a club for 2024.

After the Wests Tigers released him in 2022, Mikaele played at Super League club Warrington, plus a single game for Gold Coast late last year.

“It’s a funny one – early on in the pre-season I thought I was going back to England,” he said.

“It didn’t happen, then I was bouncing around.

“One week I thought it was going to be in Sydney … then the opportunity was there to come up north.

“I got to pre-season pretty late. It was probably two weeks into December, (but) straight away the boys were very welcoming and everyone was hard-working, so I just slotted straight in.”

But nailing down a spot in the side for the opening round of the season isn’t the No.1 priority for Mikaele, who wants to find stability for his wife and two children, aged four and one.

“Because I’ve bounced around in the last couple of years, it’s a pretty unconventional career,” he said.

“We’ve talked about settling down, and if it’s with the Cows, that’d be great.

“I’ve only worried about what I could control, and if I’m in there round one, that’s good, but if not, there’s a lot of good players.

“That’s what attracted me in the first place. A lot of our boys have played Origin and international footy, and for me, it’s just about coming in, working hard and learning off them.”

Mikaele’s two tries in the Canberra trial also raised some eyebrows, with the 115kg enforcer the clubhouse leader for one of the NRL’s more dubious honours.

He leads the NRL for the most games played without scoring a single try, making his rapid double even more remarkable.

“I can’t remember when the last time I scored two was – I think it was in under-13s or something,” Mikaele said with a laugh.

“As a middle, any time you cross the white line is always good.

“The first try I scored was in England, so lucky I’ve brought it over with me now.”