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Five things you need to know: Round 1

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host arch-rivals Brisbane on Friday night in the first of two XXXX Derby showdowns in 2020.

1. NEW DIGS

After 25 seasons calling the Willows Sports Complex home, the Cowboys make the move to the brand-new Queensland Country Bank Stadium in 2020. The 25,000 seat complex is already being touted as one of the top stadiums in the country and the Cowboys will look to begin their tenure with a bang on Friday night.

2. HAPPY VALENTINE

Marquee recruit Valentine Holmes will become North Queensland Toyota Cowboy No.284 when he steps on to Queensland Country Bank Stadium. It will also mark Holmes’ first game of rugby league since September 2018 after the 24-year-old spent 2019 with the NFL’s New York Jets. Fellow new recruits Esan Marsters and Reece Robson will also make their Cowboys debuts.

3. DRINKING IT IN

After a fierce battle over the pre-season, Scott Drinkwater has won the race to partner skipper Michael Morgan in the halves in Round 1. The NRL Nines Player of the Tournament will line-up at five-eighth for the first time in his NRL career after playing his previous 11 matches at fullback.

4. FIRST CRACK

With Josh McGuire missing through suspension, John Asiata will have first opportunity to wear the No.8 jersey made famous by club legend Matt Scott. Asiata has been named to partner vice-captain Jordan McLean in the front row with Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess in the second row and Jason Taumalolo at lock.

5. TURNING THE TABLES

The Cowboys will be seeking a reversal in fortunes against the Broncos after going down in both XXXX Derby clashes in 2019. The previous 12 battles between the two sides, stretching back to 2015, have been split with six wins apiece. Three of the previous four have been decided by four points or less.