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5 things you need to know: Round 18

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the South Sydney Rabbitohs at 1300SMILES Stadium in a Round 18 showdown on Saturday night.

1. WELCOME TO THE BIG TIME

Twenty-year-old winger Murray Taulagi will make his NRL debut on Saturday night. A rugby union convert, Taulagi is in only in his third full season of rugby league. The 99kg outside back has played for the Queensland under 20s the past two seasons and represented the junior Kangaroos in 2018. Taulagi has battled a knee injury for much of 2019, but proved his fitness with a stellar display for the Maroons under 20s two weeks ago.

2. SAYONARA SATURDAYS

The Rabbitohs clash will be the final regular-season opportunity for Cowboys fans to watch their team in the favoured Saturday night timeslot at 1300SMILES Stadium. In their remaining three home games, the Cowboys play on Thursday night twice and the Friday 6pm game once.

3. MARKING A MILESTONE

The Cowboys will celebrate Gavin Cooper’s 300-game milestone on Saturday night. Cooper became just the 37th player in premiership history to appear in 300 games last weekend, but the club will mark the achievement at home on Saturday. Cooper is just the second player to celebrate 300 games as a member of the Cowboys, joining close mate Johnathan Thurston.

4. DRINKING IT IN

New Cowboys fullback Scott Drinkwater will play his first home game since joining North Queensland in June. Drinkwater’s first two games in Cowboys colours have come at Wollongong and the Central Coast, but the 22-year-old will finally run out in front of his new home crowd this weekend. Drinkwater is averaging 136 running metres and five tackle breaks across his first two outings to go along with a memorable debut try against the Dragons.

5. NECK AND NECK

Head to head bragging rights will be up for grabs when the two sides lock horns on Saturday night. In 35 meetings, the Cowboys and Rabbitohs have won 17 apiece to go along with a draw. Souths have had the upper hand over the last two seasons, winning the three previous meetings, including a 32-16 triumph in Magic Round earlier this year.