North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Sydney Roosters
7.05pm, Thursday 17 March, 1300SMILES Stadium
Referee: Jared Maxwell, Gerard Sutton
Assistant referee: Matt Noyen
Review officials: Luke Patten, Steve Chiddy
Touch judges: Nick Beashal, Ricky MacFarlane
Cowboys: 8th; lost to Eels 20-16 at Pirtek Stadium (round 2): 2 points
Roosters: 14th; lost to Raiders 21-20 at GIO Stadium (round 2): 0 points
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew 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. Coach: Paul Green.
Roosters: 1 Latrell Mitchell, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Blake Ferguson, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Jayden Nikorima, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Kane Evans, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Aidan Guerra, 12 Mitchell Aubusson, 13 Sio Siua Taukeiaho. Interchange: 14 Isaac Liu, 15 Sam Moa, 16 Ian Henderson, 17 Mitchell Frei, 18 Eloni Vunakece, 19 Brendan Elliot. Coach: Trent Robinson.
Cowboys: Tautau Moga (knee), Ray Thompson (ankle), Shaun Hudson (ankle)
Roosters: Mitchell Pearce (suspension), Vincent Leuluai (knee), Boyd Cordner (pec), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee)
- Despite a last-start loss, the Cowboys have again named the same team that won the 2015 premiership and the subsequent World Club Challenge.
- The team’s last-start loss to the Eels was their first NRL loss since week one of the 2015 finals series.
- The Roosters have conceded 63 points in their first two NRL matches of 2016, with a 42-10 loss to the Rabbitohs and a narrow 21-20 defeat to the Raiders in Round 2.
- The Cowboys have a for/against differential of two points following a six-point win (20-14 over Sharks) and a four-point loss (20-16 to Eels).
- Former Townsville junior Aidan Guerra is a long-term first-13 member of the Roosters.
MATCH UPS – THE HALVES
Experience versus the exuberance of youth is how best to describe the battles between the teams’ respective sixes and sevens tonight.
Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan have over 350 games of NRL experience behind them, while Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings have a handful of matches in the top-shelf.
Thurston and Morgan were key components of the Cowboys’ premiership run last year and will look to continue a strong on-field partnership. Hastings and Nikorima will still be finding their feet in a new-look Roosters team.
How each pairing gets their team around the park will go a long way to determining the outcome of the match.
Cowboys coach Paul Green: “Sometimes you think, well we still could have won it, but then you don't learn your lesson. You can talk about where you need to be better but if you still get the win sometimes the message doesn't sink in as well" – on the round 2 loss to the Eels.
Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters assistant coach): “I’d like to see the same effort as what we had (last round against the Raiders). We’re playing against the premiers so you’d like to think that would draw the best out of the guys.”