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Green backs youth department with Lemuelu to debut

Cowboys coach Paul Green will field a debutant winger for the second time in as many weeks when 21-year-old Connelly Lemuelu takes plays against Wests Tigers on Saturday night.

Last week 18-year-old Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow had an impressive start to his top-grade career in the 37-26 loss to the Warriors.

Tabuai-Fidow had a hand in two tries on his debut and was solid when moved from wing to fullback after Valentine Holmes injured an ankle.

The teenager will start in the number one jersey against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium, paving the way for Lemuelu to start on the wing.

Lemuelu attended Keebra Park High School and played under 20s at Wests Tigers before a stellar 2019 with the Bulldogs in the Canterbury Cup where he scored eight tries and averaged two tackle breaks and 127m per game.

Despite injuries, Cowboys 'definitely' aiming for top 8

"He's been impressive so far in the off-season so we felt it was a good chance to give him an opportunity," Green said.

"He is a bigger body and will give us a good strong carry out of our end and he is a good finisher too.

"It is difficult at the moment with no lower grade games going on so you can only get a feel for how they are going from training and he has been impressive at  since he got here so he deserves his chance."

Meanwhile, Tabuai-Fidow is not shy of speaking up and that will be vital in the custodian role where he will need to be vocal in defence in particular.

He is a bigger body and will give us a good strong carry out of our end

Paul Green on Connelly Lemuelu

"I thought his debut was pretty good. Like most young guys when they play their first NRL game the speed of the game probably surprised him a little bit," Green said.

"I thought he had some really nice touches and his talk was good. Apart from the first try they scored off a kick I thought he got himself into the game pretty nicely.”

Green said fullback Holmes and prop Jordan McLean (calf) would hopefully be out of action for just two rounds after suffering injuries against the Warriors.

The Cowboys coach also provided an update on injured captain Michael Morgan in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery. Green said he was "coming along OK".

Morgan underwent a "washout" on his surgically repaired right shoulder after scans revealed an infection last Friday. He is expected to be back within the next six to eight weeks.

After the Wests Tigers trip, the eighth-placed Cowboys play six games in succession against top-eight sides. Despite the injuries his side is facing Green said the Cowboys were still "definitely aiming for the top eight".

"We have put some faith in some young guys with a bit of a changing of the guard so to speak," Green said.

"We probably struggled a bit to score points last year but that is not the case this year.

Holmes dives over in the corner

"We just need to work a bit harder on the other side of the footy and I think we will put ourselves in a lot more games."

Jason Taumalolo will captain the Cowboys in McLean's absence. After leading the team to NRL Nines victory in Perth earlier in the year, Green said it was fitting he got to do so in an NRL game.

"It has been a great journey for Jason. He came through the academy program with us and spent his whole career with us," Green said.

"He leads by example and we certainly saw that at the Nines. I think it will be a proud moment for him and I am confident he will do a great job."