Cowboys INSIDER

• With Test and Origin front-rowers Matt Scott and James Tamou at the same club, Ashton Sims rarely gets the chance to start a rugby league match. An opportunity arrived on Saturday night when “Basher” captained Fiji against Samoa in the Four Nations qualifier at Penrith. Not only did Sims start, he played 77 continuous minutes before being replaced – more than double his season average of game time off the bench for the Cowboys. “The coach wanted to get Petero back on so I was happy to come off,” the Bati’s leader said. If he had managed to play the full 80, it would have been a rarity. “I think you’d have to go back to ’07 with the Dragons when I was in the back-row,” he said.

• It was a mixed weekend of results for the Sims family in rep footy. Ashton and Korbin’s team lost, Tariq’s Country Origin squad drew with City Origin and sister Ruan celebrated a victory with the Women’s All Stars against the Indigenous Women’s All Stars.

• Lachlan Coote and Curtis Rona became 'half super-hero, half super-villain' after joining the face-painting fun at a special State of Origin promotion run by Tropic Petroleum at Caltex Pimlico in Townsville on Saturday morning. Cootey ended up as a cross between Batman and the Joker, while Curtis mixed in Spiderman and the Green Goblin. Their new looks, which took around 10 minutes to create, were gone by the time Monday morning training rolled around.

• Rod Jensen has become the 10th member of our 2004 squad to confirm for Thursday night’s sold out Derby Dinner which will celebrate the 10th anniversary of North Queensland’s first trip to the NRL finals series. He joins Luke O’Donnell, Paul Rauhihi, Josh Hannay, Aaron Payne, Ty Williams, David Myles, Paul Bowman, Matt Sing and captain Travis Norton on the special guest list. Channel Nine’s Ken Sutcliffe will be the MC.

• The Aaron Payne Cup has reached the semi-final stage with defending champions St Brendan’s College Yeppoon still alive in their quest for back-to-back titles. They topped the southern pool and will face Ignatius Park College in one semi-final, with the other to feature northern zone top seeds Kirwan High against St Patrick’s College Mackay. The dates and venues for the finals are still to be finalised.

• Two members of our NRL squad celebrate their birthdays on Friday – Joel Riethmuller will turn 29 and Scott Bolton 27. Happy birthday boys!

• JT will be in the Hot FM Townsville studios with Ashton Sims on Thursday morning. You can hear them on the Cliffo and Tianna breakfast show after 7.30am.

• Our official Facebook page has crashed through the 100,000 followers mark – at last count it was sitting at 102,853. Thanks to all our followers for their support.

• After Curtis Rona impressed with his slam-dunking skills last week, it will be Kyle Feldt’s turn to produce a trick shot for the WIN News Locker Room cameras this week. Tune in on Wednesday night from 7pm to see what Kyle came up with.

• To celebrate 100 games of Origin football, the Townsville Bulletin is publishing a special “Homegrown Heroes” poster series featuring North Queensland’s Origin legends. Cowboys games record holder Matthew Bowen was on the first of 18 posters in Monday’s edition.

• The Cowboys are now on the seventh line of betting for the NRL premiership with bookmaker Bet365.com.au. We’re listed as a $17 chance with Manly and the Roosters joint favourites at $5.

• There are already 59 teams nominated for the annual Laurie Spina Shield in June, with first-time entrants from the Northern Territory among those who will be in the draw. Sponsored by Guildford Coal, the carnival is capped at 64 teams with nominations closing on Friday. This year’s final will be played as the curtain-raiser to the Cowboys’ NRL clash with South Sydney on 28 June.

• Here are a couple of interesting stats involving our co-captains – Matt Scott has already equalled his record of most tries in a season (two in 2006) with two-thirds of the 2014 campaign still to run, while JT has kicked 12 from 12 in his last two matches for the Kangaroos against New Zealand.

• The Northern Pride and their contingent of Cowboys have a TV game on Nine/WIN this Sunday. They play Tweed Seagulls at Piggabeen, just over the border on Sunday, kicking off at 2.05pm.