After a four-game winning streak coming off the back of the State of Origin period, North Queensland Toyota Cowboys coach Paul Green has named his strongest 17 players to take on the Sydney Roosters this weekend.
Green is looking forward to seeing his side tested, in order to get a gauge of where the Cowboys place in terms of premiership contention.
The next four rounds will be very telling for North Queensland, as they face three top four sides, with a coveted top four position and a home final on the line. The Cowboys will need to improve over their previous performances, having done just enough to beat the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the New Zealand Warriors.
"There's areas we can be better in and we'll need to be better looking at the games we've got coming up. The Roosters are a very good side, followed by the Storm who are leading the comp and then we've got the Sharks and the Broncos in there as well in the last six weeks," Green said.
"I'm happy with the run we've got in, it's certainly going to put us in the picture about where we're at compared to other teams and where we're at within the competition so I think it's a good run home for us."
Although the Cowboys are undoubtedly playing their best football of 2017, Green has challenged his side to continue to improve in order to reach their peak during the finals.
"I think we've been playing really well. You need to be playing at or near your best against the best teams. You don't want to be hoping they're having an off day, put yourself in the game," he said.
"We want to build into the finals, we know there's improvement in us and that's what the last eight weeks has been about and the next six weeks will be about. It's about looking for that continual improvement so you're playing your best footy at the right time of the year."
With injured winger Antonio Winterstein expected to return after missing last week's win against the New Zealand Warriors, the Cowboys will be at their best defensively against a Roosters side that ranks sixth in the competition for points scored, compared to the Cowboys' ninth.
First published on NRL.com.