The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Sydney to take on the Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
1. DREAM DEBUT
Five months ago Daejarn Asi didn’t have an NRL contract, fast-forward to mid-July and the talented utility is preparing for his first-grade debut. The 19-year-old has been named on the interchange by Cowboys head coach Paul Green, but has the ability to play every position in the backline.
2. THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
With a number of experienced stars sidelined through injury, Green has turned to his young guns to fill the void. The Cowboys have named seven players with less than 30 games of NRL experience in the side to take on the Panthers, including Asi, fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, halves Mitch Dunn and Jake Clifford and hooker Reece Robson.
3. SQUARING UP
North Queensland have the opportunity to level the overall head to head scores between the two sides on Sunday afternoon. The Cowboys trail the Panthers 19 to 20 in 39 fixtures, but have won the previous two, including a 24-10 victory in Round 23 last season. The two sides have won nine matches apiece in 18 appearances at Panthers Stadium.
4. COMING HOME
Sunday’s fixture marks the end of a challenging six weeks period for the Cowboys, during which they will have played at home just twice. Following the Panthers clash the Cowboys have a two-week homestand against Manly and Canberra before remaining in Queensland to take on the Titans in Round 13.
5. LATE ADDITIONS
Vice-captain Jordan McLean and fellow forward John Asiata have failed in their bids to return from injury against the Panthers. Both veteran forwards were omitted from the Cowboys squad on Thursday night, with the NRL granting exemptions for Corey Jensen and Emry Pere to be added.