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NYC Cowboys v Warriors preview
5.10pm, Saturday 22 July
1300SMILES Stadium

Aaron Payne’s North Queensland Toyota Cowboys under-20s will look to snap a worrying form dip when they host the New Zealand Warriors in Round 20 National Youth Competition action on Saturday.

Having lost their past two matches 31-18 (Raiders) and 32-18 (Rabbitohs), Payne’s young charges will be desperate to reverse the recent trend with a strong showing against an enigmatic Warriors team.

The visitors are sitting at the foot of the NYC ladder with just three wins for the year, but are capable of an upset on their day.

The Cowboys are floundering a touch in sixth place on the ladder with nine wins and eight losses and have been plagued by inconsistency, both from match-to-match and within matches.

“It’s a challenge coaching young men, but a good challenge, so I’ll be looking to instil in the boys a bit of resilience and belief that they are capable of playing at a high level, week in, week out,” Payne said.

“We’ve been well below our standards in recent weeks, but the beauty is that we quickly get a chance to atone and right recent wrongs.”

Payne has named a largely unchanged side for the match, with the return of exciting winger Murray Taulagi the most notable change.

Taulagi – fresh from moving into the Cowboys’ National Rugby League squad from next year – will partner in-form centre Kurt Wiltshire, while Michael Carroll and Enari Tuala line up on the opposite edge.

Taulagi comes in for Nathan Traill, while Payne has gone with a slightly different bench in naming two players off the interchange – Kyle Paterson and Duarne Dempsey – who play in that dummy-half role, as backup to starting No. 9 Calum Gahan, although Dempsey does also play as a middle forward.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.