Cowboys INSIDER

• Cowboys coach Paul Green remains confident his team will feature in the September finals despite slipping to 12th on the ladder with the narrow loss to St George Illawarra on the weekend. North Queensland are four points out of the top eight after round 17 but are guaranteed two points with the bye this week. “I have no doubts we’ll be there come September,” Green said. “We need to get a few troops back and get back to playing consistently well.”

• Although they made their NRL debuts away from North Queensland, there was still plenty of family support in the Kogarah crowd for Ben Spina, Zac Santo and Sam Hoare on Saturday night. The Cowboys arranged for the parents of all three players to see their sons’ big moment live. Their official Cowboy player numbers were arranged in alphabetical order with Hoare as Cowboy No.247, Santo No.248 and Spina No.249.

Ben Spina told NRL.com that his call-up to play for the Cowboys was a “massive positive”. "It's a dream come true in a way," the 26-year-old said."(The game) was faster than anything I've ever experienced before. It was a massive shock to the system but apart from that just to get out there was a massive positive for me. Everyone wants to reach the top when you're playing a sport and I've tried my hardest to do the best I could and to achieve one game, and if it is only one game so be it, but it is something anyway.”

• One of the Cowboys’ biggest “bromances” is between fellow front-rowers Ashton Sims and Sam Hoare so it was no surprise that “Basher” was chosen to be big Sammy’s roommate for his debut match. Ashton’s usual roomie is co-captain Matt Scott who remains on the injured list.

• There was only one official training session for the Cowboys this week – an hour-long skills and conditioning session on Monday afternoon that followed a video review of the loss to the Dragons. The rehab group will continue their work during the week, but the players who are fit and available for action have been given some time off. “A bye at this time of the year is always good,” coach Paul Green said. “Most of the boys are nursing some bumps and bruises and it gives us a chance to get away and freshen up mentally before finishing the year off well.”

• Congratulations to Gavin Cooper and his wife Tenielle who welcomed their first child, Archie, into the world last week.

• While JT will bring up 30 consecutive State of Origin appearances on Wednesday night, Matt Scott’s impressive run will come to an end. The Cowboys co-captain had played every Origin since Game 1 in 2010 – that’s 14 in a row, all in the No.8 jersey.

• It didn’t mean that much result-wise but Jason Taumalolo’s 80th minute try against the Dragons did get him off the dreaded zero tries for the year mark. Among those still facing the “nudie run” for not scoring in 2014 are Ashton Sims, Glenn Hall, Scott Bolton and Joel Riethmuller.

• Our stats leaders from the loss to the Dragons were: most metres – Scott Bolton (143m); most tackles – Tariq Sims (35); most tackle breaks – Jason Taumalolo (5); most offloads – Robert Lui (3); most linebreaks – Antonio Winterstein (2).

• The Cowboys Leagues Club is giving away special State of Origin hampers during all three matches in the 2014 series. This Wednesday night, members and guests will be able to watch the action on their choice of three big screens and drinks will be at “happy hour” prices for the duration of each game.

• Our happy birthday wishes this week go to NYC hooker Dan Clarke who has his 20th birthday on Saturday.

• A crew from Sky Sports NZ have spent a couple of days at Cowboys HQ to film segments for their 40/20 rugby league program. Our Kiwi fans will hear from current NRL squad members Jason Taumalolo and Curtis Rona, as well as the Cowboys recruitment and development chief Micheal Luck, who played in the NRL for both North Queensland and the Warriors. We’ll keep you updated on when and where you can see the segments.

• Four junior contract Cowboys have been selected in the Queensland under-16 Maroons squad to face NSW Country at Rockhampton’s Browne Park on Saturday. All four – fullback Marshall Hudson, five-eighth Jake Clifford, second-rower Daniel Brownbill and lock Duarne Dempsey – are in the starting lineup after impressing in the QRL Junior Championships held in Cairns last week. Hudson, Clifford and Dempsey played for the Northern Marlins who were beaten by Brownbill’s South-East Queensland team in the final.