Cowboys ready for cold welcome
Temperatures predicted to be close to three degrees in Canberra on Saturday night will be the last concern on the minds of the North Queensland Cowboys as they come up against a Raiders outfit desperate to end a four-game losing streak.
The Cowboys will be gearing up for a physical contest in the cold and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will no doubt be revving his team up to get one back on North Queensland who stole victory in golden-point in Round 1.
Cowboys forward John Asiata is looking forward to another physical contest after the morale boost the team received by beating the Penrith Panthers at the death without Johnathan Thurston last week.
"It brings a lot of confidence for us heading into the rest of the season, losing one of your star players is hard but as a group we believe strongly that we can still do the job," Asiata said.
"[The Raiders] are a big pack in the middle and obviously we want to do a job. We've got to be there, defensively ready to do a job on them so we're just going to go out there, focus on us, work on what we need to work on and hopefully do the job."
The loss of Thurston, while undoubtedly a huge blow, has given the Cowboys a new-found determination to prove that they aren't a side to be taken lightly.
Their win against the Panthers showed they may have struggled to execute in attack, but they lost nothing when it came to remaining calm as the clock ticked down.
"It's something that we spoke about before the game, and after getting the win it's given us the belief in each other that this is the squad we have and nothing is going to change from here on in, and we believe that if everyone does their job within the team we'll get the job done," Asiata said.
Winger Antonio Winterstein will have the unenviable job of marking up against the Raiders' try-scoring machine Jordan Rapana, but is looking forward to matching up against the NRL's top try-scorer.
"In my eyes he's the best winger in the game at the moment, he's playing out of his skin, consistently getting involved and getting his team on the front foot," Winterstein said.
"I've got a big challenge on my hands, but these are the kind of games you want to play. You want to play against the best and the best bring the best out of you. Hopefully I can match his physicality and his aggression that he brings to the game."
First published on NRL.com.