A refreshed North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s team will look to bounce back to some winning form with a strong Round 19 National Youth Competition performance against South Sydney on Saturday.
Aaron Payne’s young charges enter the Rabbitohs’ spiritual home of Redfern Oval for the early Saturday afternoon showdown, the clash coming off the team’s Round 18 bye and two weeks after a disappointing Round 17 showing against the Canberra Raiders.
“Consistency is a big thing at this level and we were very disappointing down in Canberra,” Payne said.
“But it’s my job to instil that in these young players and it’s a challenge common with age-group footy.
“The boys are refreshed after several days off around that bye and we’re looking forward to putting in a good performance against South Sydney.”
Plagued by injury to his 40-man squad all season, Payne will be without key forwards Emry Pere (knee) and Solomon Vasuvulagi (shoulder) this weekend.
Pere will be out for several weeks after having a minor operation on the troublesome joint, while Vasuvulagi will be a week-to-week proposition after subluxing his shoulder.
That means Jayden Stephens and Connor Luhan will start in the front row, with Junior Kiwi Kaleb Fuimaono coming off the bench and Jack Lote set to play his first NYC game in around two months, the big Samoan product coming off the interchange bench.
Also returning to the team will be strike centre Enari Tuala, who will play his first footy since early May when he broke his jaw playing for the Junior Kangaroos in the Representative Round.
Saturday's game at Redfern Oval kicks off at 1pm.