North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v St George Illawarra Dragons NYC
3.10pm, Saturday 4 July, WIN Stadium
Referee: Henry Perenara
Touch judges: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Drew Oultram
Cowboys: 1 Ty Carucci 2 Jesse Pomare Anderson 3 Akeripa Tia Kilifi 4 Temone Power 5 Scott Schulte 6 Kyle Laybutt 7 Cooper Bambling 8 Braden Uele 9 Andrew Niemoeller 10 Ross Bella 11 Kieran Quabba (c) 12 Bill Cullen 13 Jordan Kenworthy (c). Interchange: 14 Trey Kemp 15 Mitch Dunn 16 David Munro 17 Viliame Kikau 18 Brandon Smith.
Dragons: 1 Matthew Dufty 2 Rowland Kotobalavu 3 Topiese Taufa 4 Izaac Thompson 5 Thomas Carr 6 Rhys Davies 7 Adam Clune 8 Hame Sele 9 Ryan Fletcher 10 Jack Kavanagh 11 Ryan James 12 Jacob Host 13 Tom Freebairn Interchange: 14 Kelly Tate 15 Jay Gallagher 16 Abraham Atallah 17 Blake Lawrie 18 Dee Jay Harries 19 Bronson Hoani.
Following their last-start 56-10 thrashing of the Sharks in Townsville – plus the fact that this Saturday’s match pits the team ranked second on the NYC ladder against the team ranked 16th – complacency is something that could easily sneak into the thoughts of the under-20s North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.
But several factors will guard against that, not least of which is that Todd Payten’s team will have a different look this week due to injury and representative commitments.
Shooting for a sixth straight win, and against a Dragons team with just three victories this season, the young Cowboys will be minus a key trio in winger Gideon Gela-Mosby, centre Conor Carey and hulking back-rower Coen Hess.
The young men have been selected in the Queensland under-20 team to play New South Wales in the State of Origin III curtain-raiser at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday 8 July.
Hess has been promoted to Intrust Super Cup duties with the Mackay Cutters in recent weeks, but the loss of Gela-Mosby and Carey to the Cowboys’ backline leaves a significant hole.
To that end, Jesse Pomare-Anderson will make his NYC debut on the wing after impressing at Townsville and Districts Rugby League level with Centrals, while consistent back-rower Temone Power has been named to fill Carey’s spot in the centres.
Elsewhere, impressive hooker Brandon Smith has been named on an extended bench and could come into calculation after recovering from a broken ankle.
Form props Ross Bella and Braden Uele will be called upon to counter a big Dragons pack.
Uele had his best game of the season against the Sharks, and Payten said the young wrecking ball is close to being promoted to state league action.
Hooker Andrew Niemoeller will play for the Cowboys in Wollongong before linking up with the Queensland under-20s as their 18th man.
COWBOYS COACH TODD PAYTEN: “The past month has been really pleasing to me, but they’ve got some big lads we’ll have to be on our game against.”