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The Cowboys need to recapture the form of a few weeks back when they scored 90 points in three consecutive wins to show they could be a threat around finals time.

Perhaps following the advice of coach Todd Payten after last week's back-to-earth 30-16 loss to the Roosters in not showing too much respect to the opposition could help.

The fact the Knights are trying to climb out of a loss-in-confidence crisis might also help.

Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien has pleaded with his players to hang tough when the going gets rough in games if they are to avert a fifth loss in a row on Thursday night in Townsville.

The Cowboys are 3-2 at home so far this year, while the Knights have won three of their five away games. That makes for an anything-goes match result.

The rundown

Team news

Cowboys: Prop Coen Hess failed his HIA in the loss to the Roosters and will sit out this week's match due to the short turnaround. 

Tom Gilbert comes into the starting side to replace Hess and the new face on the bench is 20-year-old back-rower Heilum Luki, who will make his NRL debut.

Daejarn Asi is the 18th man, with Corey Jensen dropping out of the playing squad on game day. Ben Condon and Kane Bradley were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

The Cowboys have won five of their past seven games against the Knights and their past three games at QCB Stadium.

Knights: Kurt Mann moves to fullback in a reshuffled Knights backline, with Simi Sasagi replacing Bradman Best (hamstring) in the centres and Blake Green returning at halfback for his first game since suffering a rib injury in round eight.

Winger Hymel Hunt has been sidelined by the recurrence of a hamstring injury and his place is taken by Brayden Musgrove.

Phoenix Crossland goes to five-eighth and Tex Hoy is the new 18th man with Josh King omitted an hour before kick-off.

Gehamat Shibasaki was omitted from the squad on Wednesday.

Gun fullback Kalyn Ponga missed Magic Round due to a hip injury and remains sidelined.

The Knights have not won in Townsville since 2015 and only one of their past 15 games in Queensland.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Valentine Holmes
    Fullback for Knights is number 6 Kurt Mann
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Starford To'a
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Javid Bowen
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
    Centre for Knights is number 18 Simi Sasagi
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Brayden Musgrove
  • Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 7 Phoenix Crossland
  • Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford
    Halfback for Knights is number 21 Blake Green

Forwards

  • Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Tom Gilbert
    Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
  • Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
  • Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Mitchell Dunn
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
  • Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell Barnett

Interchange

  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Connor Watson
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Lachlan Burr
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jacob Saifiti
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Francis Molo
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Sauaso Sue
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Heilum Luki
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie Jones

Reserves

  • Reserve for Cowboys is number 19 Daejarn Asi
    Reserve for Knights is number 1 Tex Hoy

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Michael Wise
  • Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
  • Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara

Last updated:

Key match-up

Valentine Holmes v Tex Hoy: With Kalyn Ponga's visit to his old club in North Queensland postponed, Holmes will be able to make his case for usurping Ponga's Maroons jersey unchallenged while Hoy once again has the unenviable task of trying to replace the Knights star's production at fullback.

Statistically he has the job ahead of him in this match-up.

Newcastle's No.1 understudy has a try, two try assists, a line break and 11 tackle busts in five game against Holmes's two tries, five try assists, six line breaks and 44 tackle busts in 10 outings. He also averages 169 run metres to Hoy's 118.

Stat attack

Despite a drop in form lately, the Knights remain in the NRL's top five in offloads with 107 and have had to work the hardest in defence with 3718 tackles - the NRL's highest tally in that category.

 

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