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.
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:
2. Kyle Feldt
6. Michael Morgan (c)
8. Francis Molo
9. Reece Robson
10. Jordan McLean
11. Mitch Dunn
12. Coen Hess
13. Jason Taumalolo (c)
14. Jake Granville
15. Josh McGuire
16. Corey Jensen
19. Reuben Cotter
17. Lachlan Burr
18. Shane Wright
20. Murray Taulagi
21. Ben Hampton