Eyes on the prize – a round 1 spot
With head coach Paul Green still leaving his options open for his round 1 starting side, his squad know the window of opportunity to impress is closing.
Here are six to watch in the Toyota Cowboys’ opening pre-season trial against the Brisbane Broncos at Dolphin Oval in Redcliffe on Saturday night.
Lachlan Coote: It’s his debut in Cowboys colours for the former Panther, who would like to make the North Queensland No.1 his own in 2014. He’s impressed in pre-season training with his speed off the mark and ability with the ball in hand and should provide plenty of worries to the Broncos defence.
Curtis Rona: Yet to make his NRL debut, the door is opening a little bit wider for the lanky Rona who will start on the one flank, with Kyle Feldt on the other. One of them is set to win a starting berth for round one if they can produce the goods during the rest of pre-season. Rona played for Queensland Residents last year and is now in his second year with NQ.
Robert Lui: With Johnathan Thurston staying at home in Townsville, and a rookie in Doug Hewitt as the other playmaker, Lui is definitely the senior man in the halves in this game. Being available for game one is a definite positive for the halfback who has run into problems with injury at the start of the last two seasons. He’ll be keen to get his timing right as soon as possible.
John Asiata: Another debutant for the Cowboys, Asiata won’t have been seen by too many NQ members and fans. He’s straight out of the under-20s where he was named in the 2013 Team of the Year and has made a big impression on the Cowboys coaching staff and his teammates during pre-season training. He has some ball-playing talents and can hit hard in defence.
Cameron King: The hooker role is full of fierce competition and King will know he needs to fire in the trials to win a place in the 17 for round one. He’ll share dummy-half duties with Anthony Mitchell and Rory Kostjasyn with Ray Thompson sitting this one out.
Matthew Wright: It’s definitely been a short preparation for the former Shark, who only arrived in Townsville on Monday night to fill the gap left by Wayne Ulugia’s departure. By the time Saturday night rolls around, he’ll have had three on-field sessions with his new team and he’ll probably get a run in the centres and at fullback against the Broncos.