The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the Wests Tigers in a prime-time Friday night showdown at 1300SMILES Stadium.
1. TOPSY TURVY
The Cowboys and Tigers have endured a rollercoaster head to head battle since their first clash in 2000. After North Queensland claimed eight of the first 10 fixtures, the Tigers rebounded to dominate the eight-season period between 2005 and 2012. The last 10 games have been split five apiece, with the Tigers winning the last meeting between the two sides in Round 10 last season.
2. SEE YOU SOON
Despite having to wait until Round 14 for their first meeting, the two sides will lock horns again just six weeks later. Paul Green’s men travel to Leichhardt Oval for a Thursday night blockbuster in Round 20.
3. MOVING PARTS
Injuries have again forced Green into a number of changes for the Tigers showdown. Vice-captain Jordan McLean will miss the match after picking up a hamstring injury against Manly last weekend, with Scott Bolton taking his place in the front row alongside Josh McGuire. Mitch Dunn is also facing a stint on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, forcing Enari Tuala to shift to the centres and Javid Bowen to come into the side on the wing. Hooker Kurt Baptiste returns from a one-week suspension, with Round 13 debutant Reuben Cotter dropping out of the side.
4. DEFYING BELIEF
Despite missing five games at the start of the season, Jason Taumalolo is putting together a historical season. The Cowboys lock is averaging an almost unbelievable 212 running metres a game in 2019. That feat becomes even more astonishing when you consider it includes a 44-metre performance in an injury-shortened Round 2 clash with Brisbane. Taumalolo has run for at least 200 metres in six of his eight appearances this season, including a monstrous 311-metre outing last weekend.
5. TAKING A BREAK
Following the Tigers counter, the Cowboys play just once in the following three weeks. After the competition-wide break for the rep weekend, North Queensland travel to Wollongong to meet the Dragons in Round 15, which is followed by a Round 16 bye.