A new year brings new opportunities and for three young North Queensland Toyota Cowboys players, new chapters in their footballing lives begin today when they make their National Youth Competition debuts against the Canberra Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Halfback Jake Clifford and interchange forwards Connor Luhan and Jayden Stephens will all take the field at 3.45pm as under-20s coach Aaron Payne looks to steer his team to first-up success in the final year of the NYC.
Clifford will be partnered in the halves by captain and experienced NYC campaigner Mitch Dunn, the pair making a return to the field after lengthy injury layoffs, brought about by them busting their shoulders in separate games on the same day almost 12 months ago.
In the only change to the first 17 named on Tuesday, utility Duarne Dempsey comes on to the interchange bench for Reuben Cotter who tragically suffered a second serious knee injury at training this week.
The Sarina product was due to return from 12 months out of the game this afternoon.
Jack Glossop, Kurt Wiltshire and Ryan Lloyd drop out of the extended squad and will play in various age group comps this weekend.
COWBOYS NYC TEAM: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Michael Carroll 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bacho Salam 5. Nathan Traill 6. Mitch Dunn (c) 7. Jake Clifford 8. Kaleb Fuimaono 9. Calum Gahan 10. Emry Pere 11. Cody Maughan 12. Hiale Roycroft 13. Corey Horsburgh. Interchange: 15. Connor Luhan 16. Jayden Stephens 17. Jack Lote 22. Duarne Dempsey.