The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the Penrith Panthers at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Friday evening.
1. COOPS SAYS FAREWELL
Club legend Gavin Cooper will play his final home game as a Cowboy on Friday night. Cooper announced on Monday he would depart the club at the end of the 2020 season. The 35-year-old will make his 246th appearance for North Queensland, equaling fellow life member Scott Bolton for fourth-most in club history.
Ben Condon will become Cowboy No.292 on Friday night. The 20-year-old Roma product is in his first year in the Cowboys’ NRL squad after progressing through the club’s junior pathways programs. A towering 196cm forward, Condon has the ability to play in the middle or on an edge.
3. YOUTH MOVEMENT
Cowboys Interim Head Coach Josh Hannay has injected more youth into his side to battle the Panthers. Murray Taulagi and Daejarn Asi have been recalled in the centres, joining fellow rookies Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Emry Pere, Tom Gilbert and Condon in Hannay’s 17.
4. CLOSING IN
Superstar lock Jason Taumalolo is slated to return from a calf injury. The 27-year-old was originally named in the reserves by Hannay, but was moved to the interchange at the 24-hour squad reduction. Taumalolo has been sidelined since Round 15.
5. BRIDGING THE GAP
North Queensland can close within one win of the Panthers in the overall head to head match up with a victory on Friday. The Panthers currently lead 21-19 in 40 fixtures, including a tight 22-10 victory in Round 10. The Cowboys have won six of the previous seven meetings in North Queensland, including a 24-10 triumph in Round 23 last season.