Cowboys.com.au are providing an in-depth positional analysis of the 2021 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad. We continue the series with the second-row position loaded with rising stars.
The players are ranked by their NRL experience with their career numbers of games in brackets next to their name.
>>> Part 1: 2021 squad analysis - fullback
>>> Part 2: 2021 squad analysis - outside backs
>>> Part 3: 2021 squad analysis - halves
>>> Part 4: 2021 squad analysis - middle forwards
>>> Part 5: 2021 squad analysis - hookers
>>> Updated: Cowboys 2021 squad list
Coen Hess (96)
Hess reclaimed a Queensland State of Origin jersey at the end of the 2020 season and has returned to pre-season early in order to kickstart his 2021 campaign with the Cowboys. The 24-year-old showed glimpses of his best last season and needs just four more games to bring up 100 with the Cowboys.
Mitch Dunn (28)
Despite having less than 30 NRL games on his resume, Dunn is one of the emerging leaders of the North Queensland squad. The 23-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2020 campaign, playing 17 of a possible 20 games, 12 of which came in the second row.
Shane Wright (25)
Another leading contender for a Round 1 second-row spot, Wright has been a first grade regular at various times over the past two seasons. A renowned standout on the training paddock, Wright will leave no stone unturned as he seeks to nail down a weekly spot in Payten’s line-up for 2021.
Tom Gilbert (12)
A middle forward throughout his junior football, Gilbert was thrust into the second-row late in the 2020 season and produced a number of outstanding performances. While the middle is his preferred position, he showed he is more than capable of playing on an edge.
Peter Hola (9)
Hola is yet to play second-row at NRL level, but new Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten has indicated the 21-year-old’s future may lay on the edge. The supremely talented former Junior Kiwi was struck down by a wrist injury in 2020.
Ben Condon (1)
A 196cm wrecking ball, Condon earned an NRL debut in Round 19 of the 2020 season. The Roma product is still just 20-years-old and should be in line for more NRL action in 2021 after graduating to the top 30 squad.
Heilum Luki (0)
One of the newest members of North Queensland’s NRL squad, Luki has been a member of the Cowboys Cairns Academy for a number of years. A towering 19-year-old second-rower, Luki will look to become a Queensland Cup regular for the Pride in 2021.
Jeremiah Nanai (0)
Nanai won’t turn 18 until February, but the former schoolboy star has not looked out of place during his first taste of an NRL pre-season. A Cairns product who moved to Townsville to attend Kirwan State High, Nanai will start 2021 in the Mal Meninga Cup.