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NRL team list: Round 1 v Panthers

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys head coach Todd Payten will unleash an almost full-strength side to begin his tenure in the top job for Saturday’s season opener against Penrith at Panthers Stadium.

Star forwards Jordan McLean and Josh McGuire return for their first games of 2021 after missing the trial victory over the Broncos with hamstring complaints.

McLean starts in the front row alongside Francis Molo, with McGuire to begin the match from the interchange.

>>> They both played their way into the team: Payten

>>> Panthers team list v Cowboys 

Scott Drinkwater has won the race for the fullback jersey, with Valentine Holmes to partner Kyle Feldt on the wing.

Esan Marsters and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow have been named as a new-look centre pairing, while Jake Clifford and co-captain Michael Morgan will re-ignite their halves combination after not playing a game together in 2020.

Second-rowers Mitch Dunn and Coen Hess along with co-captain Jason Taumalolo round out the forward pack.

Utility Reuben Cotter has won a spot on the interchange after impressing in both the NRL All Stars and the Cowboys’ trial against Brisbane.

Cotter is joined on the bench by McGuire, hooker Jake Granville and prop Corey Jensen.

New recruit Lachlan Burr, second-rower Shane Wright and backs Murray Taulagi and Ben Hampton make up the reserves.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 6.35pm (QLD).

Cowboys team to play Panthers:

1.    Scott Drinkwater

2.    Kyle Feldt

3.    Esan Marsters

4.    Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow

5.    Valentine Holmes

6.    Michael Morgan (c)

7.    Jake Clifford

8.    Francis Molo

9.    Reece Robson

10.  Jordan McLean

11.  Mitch Dunn

12.  Coen Hess

13.  Jason Taumalolo (c)

Interchange

14.  Jake Granville

15.  Josh McGuire

16.  Corey Jensen

19.  Reuben Cotter

Reserves

17.  Lachlan Burr

18.  Shane Wright

20.  Murray Taulagi

21.  Ben Hampton