NYC preview: Cowboys v Rabbitohs

NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v SOUTH SYDNEY NYC
4.45pm, Saturday 28 June, 1300SMILES Stadium

Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referee: Liam Kennedy
Touch judges: Chris Nitsopoulos, Nathan Cornick
Main game: 7.30pm

Cowboys: 1. Yamba Bowie 2. Samsen O'Neill 3. Lenny Magey 4. Conor Carey 5. Scott Schulte 6. Ty Carucci 7. Delayne Ashby 8. Viliame Kikau 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. Jack Kelleher 11. Coen Hess 12. Corey Jensen 13. David Munro. Interchange: 14. Dan Clarke 15. Andrew Niemoeller 16. Regan Greive 17. Michael Barclay. 

South Sydney: 1. Elliot Gorman 2. Tom Hughes 3. Tevita Cottrell 4. John Olive 5. Irae Simone 6. Brad Wall 7. Wallace Tangiiti 8. Zane Musgrove 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Eden Syme 11. Tulsa Saumamao 12. Jack Gosiewski 13. Cheyne Whitelaw. Interchange: 14. Devon Makoare-Boyce 15. Joe Gardiner 16. PJ Los'e 17. Clayton Williams. 

RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD: This is the first Cowboys v Rabbitohs match since round 21 last year when NQ scored a 34-16 victory at 1300SMILES Stadium. Overall, the head-to-head is 4-2 in Souths’ favour with two draws, while in matches in Townsville, it’s one-all with one draw.

FORM GUIDE: The Cowboys are back at home after back-to-back away losses to Parramatta and Newcastle, who are running third and first respectively. Their last home game ended in a win against the Roosters. The Rabbitohs have gone win-loss-win-loss in their last four matches and are coming off a bye in round 15.

HOME AND AWAY: North Queensland have won two of their seven home matches so far this season, while the Bunnies have won three from seven away from home territory.

KEY STAT: The Cowboys only had 41% of possession in the first half against the Knights and then were restricted to just three sets in the final 10 minutes as Newcastle went on a late points blitz. It’s almost impossible to win games with so little ball.

WHO’S NEW FOR NQ: Coach Todd Wilson has named an unchanged 17. Five-eighth Ty Carucci is set to make his home debut after playing his first under-20s match in Newcastle.

COWBOY TO WATCH: Back-rower Regan Grieve has made a strong start to his under-20s career after winning the under-18 national title with the Townsville Stingers. He brings plenty of enthusiasm and toughness into the game when he’s given his chance off the bench.

RABBITOH TO WATCH: Lock forward Cheyne Whitelaw is the leading tackler in the NYC, and by some margin. He made 50 tackles, with just two misses, in the Rabbitohs’ last match – a 28-18 loss to Wests Tigers.

THE COWBOYS’ FINAL SAY – COACH TODD WILSON:  

Last week we were given a lesson by the Newcastle team on what it takes to be consistent performers in the NYC competition.

The young Knights produced an error-free first half with a 100% completion rate which starved us of the ball, forced us to defend continuously and build pressure on our need to score points once we got the ball back.

We have discussed qualities such as toughness, competitiveness, discipline, tirelessness and confidence and the importance of consistently displaying these as both individuals and as a team. 

With a short turnaround and the need to find a balance between recovery and preparation we have focused on improving our defensive resilience, once again.

Our preparation will be around our own game and building confidence through our defence.

We know we can score points when we earn field position and control possession but unless we are better defensively we will not trouble the quality teams in the competition.

The NYC team will visit the Laurie Spina Shield on Saturday morning as a part of their game day preparation.

While this is a great opportunity to support the many young players who love the game, I also see it as a chance for our boys to realise the privileged position they're in and the number of young North Queensland players who dream of getting the same opportunity one day.