Paul Green has selected his first NRL squad as head coach of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, naming 19 players for the round one clash with the Canberra Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday night.
Michael Morgan has been handed the No.1 jersey for the first time in an NRL fixture, but Green has kept his options open by including rookie fullback Zac Santo on a six-man interchange bench that will be finalised closer to game day.
Ray Thompson has won the starting hooker role with Rory Kostjasyn to provide the dummy-half back-up off the bench, while Jason Taumalolo has been named to start in the back-row after impressing during the two pre-season trials and the NRL Auckland Nines.
Only two of the 20-year-old’s 14 appearances in 2013 came in the starting pack.
Victorious Nines captain Gavin Cooper returns to the starting line-up after sitting out the trial win against the Gold Coast Titans in Toowoomba.
Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott will team up as Cowboys co-captains for the fourth straight season.
Saturday night’s clash will kick off at 8pm.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
Round 1, 2014 Telstra Premiership
8pm, Saturday 8 March, 1300SMILES Stadium
1 Michael Morgan
2 Kyle Feldt
3 Brent Tate
4 Kane Linnett
5 Antonio Winterstein
6 Johnathan Thurston (c)
7 Robert Lui
8 Matt Scott (c)
9 Ray Thompson
10 James Tamou
11 Gavin Cooper
12 Jason Taumalolo
13 Joel Riethmuller
Interchange (two to be omitted):
14 Rory Kostjasyn
15 Tariq Sims
16 Glenn Hall
17 Scott Bolton
18 Ashton Sims
19 Zac Santo
Coach: Paul Green