North Queensland has confirmed the anticipated NRL return of former Rookie of the Year, Jake Clifford, in 2024.
Many had believed the 25-year-old halfback was set to follow in the footsteps of Johnathan Thurston early in his career. However, after a three-year hiatus, Clifford will make a return to his home club where he will serve as a back-up to key halves Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden, and enrich the skills of budding star Tom Duffy.
The mid-season transfer in 2021 saw Clifford move to Newcastle after a successful 42 games with the Cowboys. His journey then took him to a Super League experience with Hull KR in 2023.
Micheal Luck, the Cowboys general manager of football, explained that with the impending departure of Ben Hampton in 2024, they needed an experienced NRL half to not only step in for Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden but also mould the young Tom Duffy.
Jake Clifford’s suspected interest in rejoining the NRL came to light. Micheal Luck said, “We initiated some dialogues with Jake and his agent and we were elated to agree on terms swiftly.”
Jake Clifford was playing his best football under Todd before his exit in 2021. Cowboys are enticed by what he brings to the tabler in terms of experience and competition for positions.
It is understood Clifford is the right fit in terms of culture and it’s a bonus that we can bring a North Queensland boy home, added Micheal Luck.