Young five-eighth Kyle Laybutt is set to make his National Rugby League and club debut when he partners veteran Ray Thompson in the halves in Saturday’s Round 15 clash with the Melbourne Storm.
The 21-year-old Bundaberg product was slated to play against the Eels in Darwin last round, but his expected NRL introduction was put on hold with team co-captain Johnathan Thurston a late call-up into the side after passing a fitness test on his shoulder.
Thurston led the Cowboys to a resounding 32-6 triumph in the Top End, the champion No.7 currently in camp with the Queensland team ahead of State of Origin II next Wednesday.
Thompson returns to NRL duty after missing the Eels game while he manages a knee complaint, the home-grown playmaker set to play his sixth match of the year.
Also returning to the top team is centre Javid Bowen, who will play inside in-form stalwart Antonio Winterstein.
Regular left centre Kane Linnett will shift to the back row in place of Gavin Cooper, who was recalled into the Maroons after being overlooked for Game I.
On the interchange bench, Green retains Ben Hampton, Shaun Fensom and Ben Spina, and welcomes back Corey Jensen for his fourth NRL outing.
The young Bowen product is in for Coen Hess, who is the Cowboys’ fourth Origin representative alongside Thurston, Cooper and Michael Morgan.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys v Melbourne Storm
Round 15, 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership
5.30pm, Saturday 17 June, AAMI Park
1. Lachlan Coote
2. Kyle Feldt
3. Justin O’Neill
4. Javid Bowen
5. Antonio Winterstein
6. Kyle Laybutt
7. Ray Thompson
8. John Asiata
9. Jake Granville
10. Scott Bolton (c)
11. Kane Linnett
12. Ethan Lowe
13. Jason Taumalolo
14. Ben Hampton
15. Shaun Fensom
16. Ben Spina
17. Corey Jensen
18. Braden Uele
19. Kalyn Ponga
20. Patrick Mago
21. Blake Leary
Coach: Paul Green