New signing Tautau Moga will debut for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys against St George Illawarra on Saturday evening just six days after joining his new club.
The 20-year-old former Queensland Junior Origin representative, who had his first on-field training session at 1300SMILES Stadium today, has been named in the centres in a backline reshuffle brought on by the absence of co-captain Johnathan Thurston, who is on State of Origin duty for the 30th time for Queensland.
Michael Morgan will return to halfback, replacing Thurston, with Matthew Wright, who scored two tries in the 20-18 win against South Sydney last Saturday, shifting from the centres to take over Morgan’s No.1 jersey.
There’s the potential of at least another Cowboy debutant, if not two, in round 17 with forwards Sam Hoare and Ben Spina both included on a five-man interchange bench that will be reduced to four on game day.
Hoare’s inclusion in the squad of 18 means he will be unable to play for the Queensland Residents for the second straight year against NSW Residents next Wednesday night, while Spina has been called up from the Cowboys’ feeder club Northern Pride.
Spina’s father Laurie was North Queensland’s inaugural captain, opening up the possibility that the Spinas will be become the first father-son combination to play first grade for the Cowboys.
Ashton Sims will again skipper NQ and fill in for NSW Origin representative James Tamou in the starting front-row.
Morgan will head off to join the Maroons as 19th man for game three on Wednesday week following his Cowboys commitments.
In other team news, the Cowboys today released Tariq Sims from the final year of his contract in 2015. He will play out the remainder of 2014 with North Queensland.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v St George Illawarra Dragons
Round 17, 2014 Telstra Premiership
5.30pm, Saturday 5 July, Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
1 Matthew Wright
2 Curtis Rona
3 Tautau Moga
4 Kane Linnett
5 Antonio Winterstein
6 Robert Lui
7 Michael Morgan (vc)
8 Scott Bolton
9 Rory Kostjasyn
10 Ashton Sims (c)
11 Tariq Sims
12 Jason Taumalolo
13 Glenn Hall
14 Anthony Mitchell
15 Ethan Lowe
16 John Asiata
17 Sam Hoare
18 Ben Spina
STATE OF ORIGIN: Johnathan Thurston, James Tamou
QUEENSLAND RESIDENTS: Javid Bowen
NORTHERN PRIDE: Hezron Murgha, Ricky Thorby, Kyle Feldt
INJURED: Matt Scott, Brent Tate, Gavin Cooper, Ray Thompson, Joel Riethmuller, Patrick Kaufusi, Lachlan Coote, Cameron King.