Toyota Cowboys coach Paul Green says his team will be 1-17 for the season opener against Canberra tonight, with Ashton Sims and Zac Santo to drop off the six-man interchange bench named on Tuesday.
Rory Kostjasyn, Tariq Sims, Glenn Hall and Scott Bolton will be the four reserves as North Queensland attempts to follow up an outstanding pre-season with a first-up win against Ricky Stuart’s team.
The Cowboys held their final training session of the week at 1300SMILES Stadium on Friday with the coach admitting to a mixture of feelings ahead of his debut in charge of an NRL team.
“I’m a little bit excited, a little bit nervous, a little bit of everything rolled into one,” Green said.
“I’m really keen just to get to the game on Saturday.
“We’ve had a really good pre-season and the boys have prepared really well this week.
“Now it’s a matter of getting our head around the game and getting ready to play.
“We’re expecting a pretty tough, physical battle.
“We just want to start well and hopefully match them in that physical battle.”
Green said he had “full confidence” fullback Michael Morgan would handle playing at the back in an NRL match for the first time, adding the former halfback had not had to undertake too much extra preparation for his new role.
“He’ll get better as the season goes on as will all of our players,” he said.
Morgan’s inclusion is one of only three personnel changes to the Cowboys’ squad of 17 that faced Cronulla in last year’s elimination final.
He replaces games record holder Matthew Bowen, Kyle Feldt returns on the wing instead of Wayne Ulugia and Ray Thompson is back at hooker with Jayden Hodges now at Manly.
Jason Taumalolo has been promoted to the starting pack with Hall on the bench.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Robert Lui 8. Matthew Scott 9. Ray Thompson 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Joel Riethmuller.Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn 15. Tariq Sims 16. Glenn Hall 17. Scott Bolton.
Canberra Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Allwood 5. Edrick Lee 6. Jack Wighton 7. Terry Campese 8. Dane Tilse 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Edwards 13. Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14. Josh McCrone 15. Jarrad Kennedy 16. Paul Vaughan 17. Shannon Boyd.