Fighting fire with fire
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys five-eighth Te Maire Martin says a team-first mentality will be key to containing dangerous West Tigers fullback James Tedesco when the teams square off at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
Speaking ahead of the crunch Round 25 clash – where the Cowboys can all but secure their spot in the 2017 NRL finals with victory over the 15th-placed Tigers – Martin said Tedesco was such a dangerous open-field runner that the whole defensive line had be to in sync when looking to stifle his effectiveness on kick returns.
“It’s impossible to predict which direction he’s going to go,” Martin said.
“You have to just pick a direction and jump into his path hopefully … but the real key is to moving up together as a defensive unit and being on the same page as the player next to you.”
The Cowboys head to Campbelltown with uncertainty surrounding the availability of a host of injured players.
Winger Antonio Winterstein (hamstring) and core forward Shaun Fensom (knee) look almost certainties to play and were both named in the starting 17 on Tuesday, as was John Asiata, whose elbow injury incurred last weekend against the Sharks wasn’t as serious as first feared.
Skipper Gavin Cooper (calf) and fullback Lachlan Coote (foot) were named in 21-man Cowboys squad and will have to get through training on Thursday to be passed fit for the match.
Himself one game back from a short injury layoff with a knee injury, Martin said he was feeling pretty much 100 per cent and was looking forward to taking on the Tigers as the club looked to snap a four-match losing streak.
He added that while learning to play hurt was an important part of being an NRL player, "you can’t be silly about it".
“We have great medical and support staff at the club who we trust 100 per cent in terms of the advice they give and the recovery and rehab paths they put us on,” Martin said.
Friday’s game kicks off at 7.50pm.