Rockhampton product Sam Hoare will make his return to the National Rugby League when the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys take on the Melbourne Storm at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.
Hoare, 25, will play his first game in the top-flight comp since an appearance in Round 4 against the Titans, the young prop coming in for Ben Hampton, with Cowboys head coach Paul Green opting for a bigger bench devoid of a backup dummy half option.
A Cowboy since the 2014 season when he played four games in his rookie year, Hoare’s opportunities have been limited since then, with injury and competition for front-row spots limiting him to just 16 NRL appearances.
He missed the entire 2016 season with a serious knee injury and this year had an extended stint on the sidelines with a badly broken hand.
In the only other change from the team that went down to the Roosters in Round 22, Shaun Fensom (rib cartilage) returns, the veteran forward coming into the starting side, while John Asiata joins Hoare, Coen Hess and Corey Jensen on the interchange bench.
Braden Uele, who made his NRL debut last week, will be the 18th man.
The Cowboys are sitting fifth on the NRL ladder with 12 wins from 19 games.
Tonight's game kicks off at 7.50pm.
COWBOYS: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Te Maire Martin, 7. Michael Morgan, 16. Shaun Fensom, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Scott Bolton, 11. Gavin Cooper (c), 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 8. John Asiata, 15. Coen Hess, 17. Corey Jensen, 20. Sam Hoare.
STORM: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Ryley Jacks, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Joe Stimson, 13. Dale Finucane, 14. Nelson Asofa Solomona, 15. Kenny Bromwich, 16. Jordan McLean, 17. Slade Griffin, 18. Nate Myles, 19. Jahrome Hughes.