North Queensland Toyota Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein has welcomed the pressure from players outside of the starting line-up who are pushing their claim for an NRL promotion.
Winterstein admits the strong form of Cowboys squad members playing for feeder clubs the Mackay Cutters, Northern Pride and Townsville Blackhawks had made members of the NRL squad feel pressure to keep their spots.
"Everyone has to be on their toes and everyone is under pressure to perform lately. It's healthy for the club if you've got guys of high quality coming through the ranks pushing us old fellas to perform well," Winterstein said.
The performance of boom centre Enari Tuala in the Queensland Cup has been particularly impressive and Cowboys head coach Paul Green said earlier this week the 20-year-old is closing in on an NRL berth.
Playing for the Northern Pride, Tuala has averaged just shy of 100 running metres and two tackle breaks a game in eight Queensland Cup performances.
"He's a good young player coming up through the system. He's been in our system a while and he's had his opportunity to play first grade here and when he did he definitely took it with both hands," Winterstein said.
Winterstein has been critical of his own performances in recent weeks, but the Cowboys winger said he has full confidence in his ability to bounce back against the Panthers this week.
"I can only control what I do on the field and on the training paddock," he said.
"It's always a good challenge coming off a poor performance and it's a challenge I'll take with both hands.
"I'm always really critical of my own performance and I know there were opportunities we did miss on the weekend."