NORTH QUEENSLAND TOYOTA COWBOYS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Round 7, 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership
5.30pm, Saturday 18 April, 1300SMILES Stadium
Live updates: twitter.com/nthqldcowboys
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Grant Atkins
Touch judges: Michael Wise, David Ryan
Video referees: Shayne Hayne, Ben Galea
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1, 4TOFM, NRL Digital Pass
1.15pm: Western & Eastern gates open
1.20pm: Army Thunder v Palm Island Skipjacks (Bill Coolburra Shield)
3.00pm: All gates open
3.15pm: NYC Cowboys v Warriors
5.30pm: NRL Cowboys v Warriors
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote 2 Justin O’Neill 3 Tautau Moga 4 Kane Linnett 5 Antonio Winterstein 6 Michael Morgan 7 Johnathan Thurston (c) 8 Matt Scott (c) 9 Jake Granville 10 James Tamou 11 Gavin Cooper 12 Ethan Lowe 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Rory Kostjasyn 15 John Asiata 16 Scott Bolton 17 Ben Hannant.
Warriors: 1 Tuimoala Lolhea 2 Johnathan Wright 3 Konrad Hurrell 4 Solomone Kata 5 Manu Vatuvei 6 Chad Townsend 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Jacob Lillyman 9 Thomas Leuluai 10 Ben Mataulino 11 Boden Thompson 12 Ryan Hoffman 13 Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: 14 Nathan Friend 15 Dominque Peyroux 16 Sam Lisone 17 Albert Vete 18 Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
Cowboys: Matthew Wright (hamstring)
Warriors: Sam Tomkins (knee), Ben Henry (knee)
- Johnathan Thurston will play his 250th NRL game on Saturday evening. His debut game was for the Bulldogs against Penrith in 2002.
- Forward Ben Hannant will play his 200th NRL game in round 7.
- The original Auckland Warriors and the Cowboys debuted in the competition within a day of each other, the Warriors losing to Brisbane 22-25 in Auckland on 10 March 1995, and North Queensland beaten 16-32 by the then-Sydney Bulldogs in Townsville the following day.
- In 33 matches between the two sides, the Warriors have an 18-15 edge in wins although the Cowboys lead 10-5 in contests in Townsville.
- Jacob Lillyman makes his 131st appearance for the Warriors on Saturday night after playing 62 games for North Queensland.
- Both teams come into the clash off the back of victories, with the Warriors defeating Wests Tigers 32-22 and the Cowboys downing the Rabbitohs 30-12.
MATCH UP – Johnathan Thurston v Shaun Johnson
They are the catalysts in their sides' attack and both have a massive say in the outcome of the game and can turn it in a blink of an eye. Thurston has been in career-best form lately and would no doubt be eyeing off getting back the Golden Boot award for the world’s best player that the Kiwi halfback won last year. The Cowboys 7 is currently second in the league for line-break assists behind Matt Moylan, while Johnson has only registered one try assist in 2015.
FROM THE COACHES
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “It’s just about maintaining that momentum we’ve got off those three wins and doing what has worked well for us the last month. They’re big, skilful and powerful with some quick guys playing off the back of that and it's another challenge for us.”
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden: “It’s no doubt going to be our toughest test. They’ve hit the form that’s made them one of the favourites in the competition. And there’s no denying (Johnathan) Thurston’s class and I think what’s making him and his team so good at the moment is the quality of what they're doing in the middle of the field.”