Team lists: Cowboys v Knights
Saturday 25 August 2012 6:30 PM
Blake Leary will make his NRL debut for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys in the round 25 Telstra Premiership clash with Newcastle at Dairy Farmers Stadium tonight.
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The 22-year-old was brought into the squad after the Cowboys elected to rest halfback Michael Morgan, who suffered a head knock in Monday night’s victory against St George Illawarra.
Leary will come off the bench with Anthony Mitchell to start at halfback for the first time, while Jason Taumalolo returns to the NRL for his first game since round 19 as Ricky Thorby’s replacement.
Thorby was ruled out earlier in the week with a lower leg injury.
Leary, who captained the Melbourne Storm NYC team, came to North Queensland at the start of the 2011 season but had his year ruined by a knee reconstruction just as he was pressing for a first-team berth.
He has been playing in the back-row and at hooker for the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup this season.
The fifth-placed Cowboys, now safely in the finals on 30 points, will be shooting for three straight victories in what will be their last home encounter of the fixture rounds.
It will be the tribute match for hooker Aaron Payne, who will retire at the end of the 2012 season after playing more matches than any other Cowboy apart from games record holder Matthew Bowen.
This will be his 217th appearance for the club after making his debut in 2002.
Kick off is at 7.30pm.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys: 1 Matthew Bowen, 2 Ashley Graham, 3 Brent Tate, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Johnathan Thurston (c), 14 Anthony Mitchell, 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Aaron Payne, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Glenn Hall, 13 Dallas Johnson. Interchange: 16 Ashton Sims, 17 Scott Bolton, 21 Blake Leary, 22 Jason Taumalolo.
Newcastle Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Timana Tahu 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Willie Mason 9. Danny Buderus (c) 10. Kade Snowden 11. Chris Houston 14. Robbie Rochow 13. Neville Costigan. Interchange: 12. Alex McKinnon 15. Zeb Taia 16. Adam Cuthbertson 17. Zane Tetevano.