State of Origin selections and a long-term injury to Gavin Cooper have led to five changes in the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys’ starting team for the round 11 NRL clash with Canberra on Sunday afternoon.
Head coach Paul Green has brought nine new faces into his extended squad of 19 as the Cowboys, now in eighth place on the ladder, seek a fourth straight victory, this time without their four Origin representatives – co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston, James Tamou and Brent Tate.
Curtis Rona returns after a one-game layoff due to an ankle injury and will play on the wing with Matthew Wright to fill in for Tate at right centre.
Halfback Ray Thompson is also back from a knee injury sustained in round eight and returns to the halves alongside Robert Lui, who will wear Thurston’s No. 6 jersey.
In the forward pack, Ashton Sims and Scott Bolton will take over from Scott and Tamou as the starting front-rowers, Jason Taumalolo returns from an ankle problem in the back-row and Ethan Lowe will make his second NRL run-on appearance as Cooper’s replacement.
The six-man extended bench that will be reduced to four later in the week includes potential debutants Sam Hoare and John Asiata, as well as back-up hooker Anthony Mitchell, who has regained his place following the season-ending knee injury to Cameron King.
Hoare played his 50th Intrust Super Cup match for Mackay at the weekend, while Asiata, a member of the 2013 NYC Team of the Year, has also been playing with the Cutters after signing with North Queensland from the Sydney Roosters at the end of last season.
NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
Round 11, 2014 Telstra Premiership
3pm, Sunday 25 May, GIO Stadium
1 Michael Morgan
2 Curtis Rona
3 Matthew Wright
4 Kane Linnett
5 Antonio Winterstein
6 Robert Lui
7 Ray Thompson
8 Scott Bolton
9 Rory Kostjasyn
10 Ashton Sims
11 Ethan Lowe
12 Jason Taumalolo
13 Tariq Sims
14 Anthony Mitchell
15 Glenn Hall
16 Ricky Thorby
17 Joel Riethmuller
18 Sam Hoare
20 John Asiata
Coach: Paul Green