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Cowboys 2021 squad analysis - outside backs

Cowboys.com.au are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2021 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the outside backs headlined by try-scoring wizard Kyle Feldt and a host of rising stars.

>>> Part 1: 2021 squad analysis: Fullback

The players are ranked by their NRL experience with their career numbers of games in brackets next to their name.

Justin O’Neill (184)

A year after a horror spleen injury threatened to cut his career short, O’Neill returned to play 17 of a possible 20 games in 2020. O’Neill again split his time between wing and centre, scoring six tries. The 29-year-old needs a further 16 appearances to reach 200 for his career.

Kyle Feldt (134)

Townsville born and bred, Feldt now sits second on the all-time Cowboys try-scoring list. The 28-year-old led North Queensland in tries for the fifth consecutive year in 2020 with 19 and held the NRL lead until the final weekend of the season. Feldt now needs just eight tries to become just the second-ever Cowboy to score 100 for the club.

Ben Hampton (104)

Hampton again played a variety of positions again in 2020. While his ideal position remains up for debate, he has spent significant time at both centre and wing during his time in North Queensland and will again be firmly in the mix for both spots in 2021.

Esan Marsters (73)

Marsters enjoyed a mixed first season in North Queensland. After starring in the opening rounds, Marsters was in and out of the season during the second half of the season, but showed that at his best, he can be a major handful for opposition defences.

Javid Bowen (36)

After spending last season with the Northern Pride, Bowen re-joined the Cowboys at the beginning of the 2021 pre-season on a training block. The 27-year-old impressed in the lead-up to Christmas, earning himself a one-year deal. Bowen previously appeared in 36 games for the Cowboys between 2016 and 2019, scoring 10 tries.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (14)

While he makes no secret fullback is his preferred position, Tabuai-Fidow did most of his damage from the wing during his sensational debut season. In seven games on the wing, the 19-year-old scored four tries, including in each of his last three games. New Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten has also indicated Tabuai-Fidow will spend time training at centre in the pre-season.

Murray Taulagi (10)

Injuries limited Taulagi to just four games in 2020, but after fighting his way back into the side for the final two rounds, the 21-year-old showed he has the ability to be a centre at NRL level. Taulagi has played exclusively on the wing in his first eight top-grade games, but was one of the Cowboys best playing in his preferred centre position over the last fortnight of the season.

Connelly Lemuelu (7)

Lemuelu registered seven appearances during his maiden NRL season, impressing with his strong ball carrying. After playing on the wing in his debut against the Wests Tigers, Lemuelu played the next six games in his preferred centre position.

Daejarn Asi (5)

He debuted in the halves, but Asi spent a large chunk of his junior career at centre. Gifted with a strong running game and silky ball skills, Asi played one of his five top-grade games in 2020 at centre and could spend significant time in the position again in 2021.

Michael Bell (0)

Bell enters his maiden season with the Cowboys’ top squad in 2021, but the Moranbah product does have some experience playing alongside NRL stars. Bell was plucked from outside the NRL squad to feature in the Cowboys Nines squad in 2020 and featured in all but one game in the victorious campaign. The 20-year-old has the ability to play either wing or centre.

Kane Bradley (0)

Bradley joined the Cowboys just after the Christmas break on a two-year deal from the Wests Tigers. The 196cm outside back came through the Tigers' system as a second-rower, before transitioning to the wing over the previous two seasons.