The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys will try to recapture their winning feeling and form from the NRL Auckland Nines earlier this year when they are again without their biggest stars for the round 11 trip to Canberra this weekend.
With State of Origin commitments claiming co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston, Brent Tate and James Tamou, the Cowboys won’t be at full strength for the journey south but they won’t be lacking class and confidence.
They won the inaugural Nines without Scott, Thurston and Tate and this Sunday will field nine members of the Auckland squad in their starting 13, including six run-on backs.
“This squad is very similar to our Nines squad,” coach Paul Green said today.
“We went over there and got the job done.
"I think this is another challenge for this group.
“There’s a lot of really good young guys on the way up.
“We need to get together and look at where and how we’re going to beat the Raiders.
“I think it could be a really great thing for this group.”
Selecting a captain of his new-look squad is one of the challenges left for Green this week.
With his co-captains as well as Tate on State of Origin duty and NRL Auckland Nines skipper Gavin Cooper out with a hip injury, the Cowboys are without four of their main on-field leaders for round 11.
The only remaining member of the leadership group, forward Glenn Hall, is on the interchange bench, making it difficult for him to be named as captain.
“Basically my leadership group’s gone. It probably would have been Gavin Cooper (as captain on Sunday),” Green said.
“I’ll have a look at it. Talk to my assistants over the next couple of days and make a decision.”
The chief options appear to be Ashton Sims, who has previously captained the Cowboys in trials and led Fiji for the first time in their Test match against Samoa three weeks, halfback Ray Thompson, fullback Michael Morgan and back-rower Tariq Sims.