Football Staff Profiles

Adrian Thomson – Football Operations Manager

Adrian brings extensive experience to the position of Football Operations Manager having been involved in the game of rugby league for three decades, not only has he won three QRL State Championships with the Northern Marlins but he has also coached Townsville Brothers to five premierships in the Townsville and Districts Rugby League competition.  “Happy” began working with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys as the recruitment manager, he was promoted to a coaching role as one of three coaching assistants to Head Coach Paul Green for the 2014 season.

At the Cowboys, Thomson was tasked with working closely with NRL squad members who were playing in the Intrust Super Cup and this experience will serve him well as the Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks begin recruitment for the inaugural squad. Further bolstering Thomson’s knowledge of player selections and talent in the Queensland region he has served as a Selector for the Queensland Rangers, Queensland Country & Queensland Resident teams; as well as Queensland State of Origin Under 20s and the Australian Junior Kangaroos.


Aaron Payne – Head Coach

We welcome local Townsville legend, Aaron Payne as Head Coach of the Mendi Blackhawks in 2019.

Aaron has an impressive Rugby League resume playing 219 NRL games for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, including being a member of the 2005 Grand Final Team.

For his contribution to the Cowboys, and playing over 200 games, Aaron was awarded a Cowboys Life Member.

In recent times Aaron has been a crucial member of the coaching staff as NYC for two seasons and Academy Coach.

We welcome Aaron to the Mendi Blackhawks!


Allan Petersen – Assistant Coach

We welcome Allan back to the Mendi Blackhawks as Assistant Coach to Aaron Payne.

Allan is a Townsville local, completing his schooling at Ignatius Park.  His senior football career began with 4 years playing at the Ipswich Jets in the Queensland Cup, and Brisbane A-grade competition.

Allan already has an extensive coaching career including, Coach Townsville Mendi Blackhawks U16’s to 2 Qld titles, Coach Townsville Mendi Blackhawks U20’s in their inaugural year, Coach Townsville A-Grade in the Foley Shield in 2017, Assistant Coach QLD U’16 for the past previous two years and has previously worked with Aaron Payne as Assist Coach with the North Queensland Cowboys under 20’s.


Dave Elliott – Under 20’s Coach

As Assistant Coach of the Mendi Blackhawks for the first 4 years, in 2019 David Elliott takes over as Head Coach for the Mendi Blackhawks Under 20’s.  After a successful season in 2018, Elliott is looking forward to the success continuing.

Dave moved to Townsville in 2006 taking up a teaching position at Ignatius Park, a position he retained until the end of 2018.

He has a very impressive coaching resume which includes –  Coach of the Open Schoolboys side, 2008 – 2012, Coach North Queensland U18 schools 2009 – 2012 – winning 2 state championships, Coach Queensland U18 schoolboys 2012 – 2015, Coach Queensland Marlins 2014 – winning the state title, was Assistant coach of the NYC team from 2009 – 2011, making the grand final in 2011, Brothers A grade Coach 2012 – 2014 – 3 consecutive grand final appearances with a win in 2014 as well as Townsville Blackhawks ISC Assistant Coach 2015 – 2018.

We wish Dave and his Under 20’s all the best in the 2019 Hastings Deering Colts Competition!


Matthew Bowen – Under 18’s Coach

We are excited to welcome an absolute legend and North Queensland Cowboys Life Member to our Coaching Staff, as head coach of our Under 18’s for season 2019.

Matthew Bowen needs no introduction.  “Mango” played 270 games for the Cowboys, scoring 130 tries along the way, as well as representing Queensland, Australia, Indigenous All Stars and the Prime Ministers XIII.

His passion for the game remains as strong as ever.  In season 2018, Matty was Captain and Co-Coach of Central Tigers, winning the clubs first premiership in 16 years in the Townsville & Districts Rugby League competition. The former State of Origin, scored a try and kicked nine goals in the game.

We wish Matty and his Under 18’s all the best in the 2019 Mal Meninga Cup!


Jason Tassell –  Strength & Conditioning Coach

Jason came to the Mendi Blackhawks in 2018 as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach.  With over 16 years’ experience in this field, season 2019 will see Jason take over as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach in a full-time position.

In this role, Jason will write and implements all the Mendi Blackhawks strength and conditioning programs for the Intrust Super Cup, Under 20’s and Under 18’s teams.  Jason will also collect and analyses GPS data to better inform our training processes.

Prior to relocating to Townsville, Jason was the inaugural Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the PNG Hunters.

Jason also played NRL for the Sydney Rooster, 1989-1994, and Souths Sydney Rabbitohs, 1995-1997.


Christian Quabba – Strength & Conditioning Coach

Christian is teacher at Ignatious Park College where he also coaches the first rugby league team.  Christian’s role is to assist in the implementation of the strength and conditioning programs including return to play, rehabilitation, strength and player data collection and monitoring.


Daniel Strickland – Strength & Conditioning Coach

Daniel was our inaugural strength and conditioning coach but now is involved on a part time basis due to his business commitments.  Daniel brings on-field and off-field knowledge with him to his role as Strength and Conditioning Coach. He played 67 first grade games for the NQ Cowboys between 2000-2006 and started FIT Solutions in 2004 while still playing professional rugby league. Daniel also spent a season as Trainer for the NQ Cowboys NYC squad in 2008. He is now Owner operator of FIT Solutions/CrossFit Townsville.


John Alloway – Conditioning Trainer

John is the Head of Sport at Ignatious Park College and has long been involved with NQ Cowboys as a trainer. John is in charge of the Mendi Blackhawks rehabilitation program to assist getting players back on the field after injury.


Tim Nugent – Development

Tim joins the Mendi Blackhawks this year as a full-time development officer.  His main focus will be providing support to all local clubs in and around the Townsville and district footprint.

Tim is locally born and bred in Townsville and has been working in Rugby League development for the past 15 years.

Tim will also be one of our Blackhawks Academy coach’s.  Welcome aboard “Nuggo”!