The NYC Cowboys will have four debutants in their starting 13 for the season-opening clash with the Canberra Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday evening.
There’s also the potential of another three Cowboys making their debut off the interchange bench with coach Todd Wilson naming a 19-man squad that he will reduce to 17 by game day.
It will be a completely new-look halves pairing for North Queensland with Delayne Ashby, who came to the Cowboys from the Sydney Roosters in the off-season, joining up with James Redman who is in his first year as an NYC squad member.
A junior with the Nightcliff Dragons in the Darwin competition, Redman played senior football in Townsville last year with Centrals Tigers.
The other run-on first gamers are hooker Josh Chudleigh from the Bungendore Tigers in Canberra and winger Rainer Power, a junior with the Bowen Seagulls and Burdekin Roosters who had his 2013 season ruined by a long-term foot injury.
The new faces of the bench are Fijian forward Viliame Kikau, who has played in each of the Cowboys’ pre-season trials; Sarina outside back Scott Schulte, in his second year in NQ’s under-20s program; and 18-year-old rookie Bill Cullen from the Calliope Roosters.
After playing almost exclusively in the No.6 jersey in 2013, Alex Grant has been named at fullback while NRL squad member Patrick Kaufusi will start at prop.
The round one squad was announced at a special team dinner on Monday night which also included Jack Kelleher being awarded the Cowboys’ 2014 captaincy with fellow final-year forward Corey Jensen as his deputy.
NYC North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
5.45pm, Saturday 8 March, 1300SMILES Stadium
1 Alex Grant
2 Hayden Crowley
3 Lenny Magey
4 Samsen O’Neill
5 Rainer Power
6 James Redman
7 Delayne Ashby
8 Patrick Kaufusi
9 Josh Chudleigh
10 David Munro
11 Jack Kelleher (c)
12 Corey Jensen
13 Andrew Niemoeller
14 Dan Clarke
15 Kieran Quabba
16 Bill Cullen
17 Viliame Kikau
18 Halvor Harris
19 Scott Schulte
Coach: Todd Wilson.