Hampton's homecoming

Mareeba boy Ben Hampton is looking forward to some home-town love when he returns to his home region for Sunday’s North Queensland Toyota Cowboys versus South Sydney Rabbitohs clash in Cairns.

New to the Cowboys in 2017, Hampton has played a key utility role off the bench for head coach Paul Green this season, and will look to continue to serve as an able backup in that dummy-half role this weekend.

The young Queenslander said he expected a number of old schoolmates to attend the match, and despite being a South Sydney “home” game, strong Cowboys support was expected.

“It’ll be a great atmosphere and I love playing up here, but it’s been a while,” Hampton said. “I’ve got fond memories of playing plenty of junior rep footy at Barlow Park.”

Hampton said the Cowboys were jumping out of their collective skin at the thought of returning to playing following a Round 18 bye, the team playing consistent, high-level rugby league despite being without regular co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott for the rest of the season.

“I think in the past six weeks or so, we’ve really put in some consistent, strong performances and that comes on the back of guys like Morgo (halfback Michael Morgan) really stepping up and leading us around so well,” he said.

“Scott Bolton too has been huge for us in the middle now, while Coops (Gavin Cooper) has grabbed that captain’s role with both hands and is really leading the team brilliantly.

“We’re excited about the rest of the season and we’re pumped about playing in Cairns this weekend.”

Hampton, 25, has played 15 of 16 games for the Cowboys this year and has provided strong energy off the bench as a deputy to starting hooker Jake Granville.

COWBOYS v RABBITOHS
Sunday 16 July, Barlow Park

1.40pm: Gates open
1.45pm: North Queensland United v Queensland Outback
4pm: NRL Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Tickets: ticketek.com.au