Pre-season teams taking shape
Toyota Cowboys coach Paul Green says he is close to finalising his squads for the inaugural Auckland Nines and North Queensland’s opening pre-season NRL trial against Brisbane.
The Redcliffe hitout against the Broncos at Dolphin Oval on Saturday 8 February will be Green’s first match in charge of the Cowboys but he’s set to take a much stronger squad to the Nines a week later at Eden Park.
Under the playing conditions for the Nines, each of the 16 NRL clubs must name 12 of their top 25 squad members to make the trip across the Tasman, including one of their top five highest paid players.
All up, each squad consists of 16 players.
The Redcliffe trial will be unlimited interchange and is likely to feature at least 20 Cowboys.
“I’ve had a bit of a look at the Nines and that first trial will be a lot of younger guys and relatively inexperienced guys who will be getting an opportunity in that one," Green said.
"I’m pretty close to having both squads finalised.
“It’s not too far off now but there’s a still a lot of work we all need to do before then.”
Green conducted his first training session with his full NRL squad on Tuesday afternoon following the return of the four Kangaroos representatives from their post-World Cup break.
All four – Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate – joined both the skills and conditioning sessions after a gym session earlier in the day.
“It’s made a massive difference,” Green said of having all of his players available.
“So far pre-season has been pretty disrupted but I know a lot of other clubs are in the same boat.
“We’ve had most of our high-calibre players out, including our leaders who hadn’t been able to be at training until now.
“It’s really good to get them back on deck.”