The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the 11th placed Newcastle Knights at 1300SMILES Stadium on Friday evening.
1. FIGHTING BACK
Newcastle absolutely terrorised North Queensland during the Cowboys' early years. During their first nine seasons, the Cowboys won just two matches against a Knights juggernaut which claimed premierships in 1997 and 2001. But the start of the 2004 season signaled a turn of the tide for North Queensland. The Cowboys have won nine of their past 13 outings against Newcastle, including a 24-12 victory in Round 8 last season.
2. NORTHERN NIGHTMARES
As it has been for most teams during the past decade, 1300SMILES Stadium hasn't been a pleasant place for Newcastle to visit. The Knights have won just two games in Townsville in the past 10 years, their most recent coming in Round 2 of the 2015 season.
3. COMING HOME
Born and bred in North Queensland, former Cowboy Jacob Lillyman will return to Townsville for the first time as a member of the Newcastle Knights this weekend. Lillyman played 62 games for the Cowboys across five seasons between 2003 to 2008 and also emerged as a Queensland State of Origin regular. The 34-year-old has been named to start at prop for the Knights on Friday night.
4. EDGING CLOSER
Jordan McLean has missed the majority of his first season at the Cowboys after sustaining a serious foot injury against the Panthers in Round 4. There were originally fears he would miss the rest of the season, but he may come into calculations to make his long-awaited return this week after being named on the reserves list in Paul Green's 21-man squad. Co-captain Matt Scott joins McLean on the reserves after being sidelined since Round 14 with a neck injury.
5. MILESTONE APPROACHING
The Round 19 loss to the Dragons means the Cowboys are still searching for club win number 250. A victory over the Knights on Friday night would see North Queensland reach the mark.