The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Newcastle this weekend to take on the Knights in a Round 22 showdown at McDonald Jones Stadium.
1. LONG TIME NO SEE
Saturday’s clash with the Knights will be the Cowboys first trip to Newcastle in four years. Their last visit resulted in a thrilling 26-24 victory on Anzac Day in 2015, a game the Cowboys were reduced to 15 for 75 minutes after losing Jason Taumalolo and Jake Granville to injury in the opening exchanges. The overall head to head match-up between the two sides is almost level after a golden run by the Cowboys over the last decade. Newcastle hold a one-game 19-18 advantage in 37 all-time meetings.
2. TAUMALOLO OUT
The Cowboys suffered a huge mid-week blow with superstar lock Jason Taumalolo ruled out with a foot injury on Thursday. It’s the second time the Tongan wrecking ball has been sidelined in 2019 after a knee injury saw him miss five games at the start of the season.
3. YOUTH INJECTION
Taumalolo’s absence does have one silver lining, with highly regarded young forward Peter Hola set to come into the side. Hola made his NRL debut in last Thursday’s XXXX Derby clash with Brisbane and ran for 32 metres from three carries in just 12 minutes. Fellow young gun Reuben Cotter also returns to the side after a string of impressive performances in the Queensland Cup. It will be Cotter’s third NRL game, following his appearances in Rounds 13 and 15.
4. MR CONSISTENT
Cowboys head coach Paul Green did receive some positive news on the injury front this week, with experienced outside back Jordan Kahu cleared to return from a facial fracture. Kahu has been sidelined since suffering the injury in the Round 17 victory over the Roosters. The 28-year-old will line up on the wing for the first time in North Queensland colours after splitting his time between fullback and centre in his first season at the club.
5. ON A ROLL
Cowboys second-rower Gavin Cooper will look to extend his try-scoring streak against Newcastle to four consecutive games. Cooper scored the match-winning try in the dying minutes when the Knights visited 1300SMILES Stadium in Round 20 last season.