The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Newcastle to take on the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
1. FLY IN, FLY OUT
As was the case for the majority of the 2020 season, the Cowboys will fly to and back from Newcastle on a charter flight on Saturday. It will be just the second time North Queensland have been forced into same-day travel this season – the other instance coming in Round 4 against Cronulla.
2. BACK ON TRACK
The Cowboys have endured a unique preparation for the Knights clash. After returning from a week off, North Queensland trained Monday before being sent home prior to their next session on Wednesday due to the COVID-19 scare in Townsville. The Cowboys received the all-clear to return to training late Thursday morning and trained that afternoon and held Captain’s Run this morning.
3. STAND-IN SHERRIF
With Todd Payten stuck in isolation after being deemed a close contact to a COVID-19 case, assistant coach Dean Young will take the reins of the Cowboys this weekend. Young has previous experience in an interim role, taking over as head coach of St George Illawarra for the back end of the 2020 season. Payten has been in constant contact with Young and fellow assistant Steve Georgallis and will watch the game from his hotel room.
4. PLAY IT BACK
North Queensland will be hoping for a repeat performance from the last time they faced the Knights. In a Round 11 fixture at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, the Cowboys triumphed 36-20 courtesy of a first-half blitz and a Murray Taulagi hattrick.
5. GILBERT OUT
The Cowboys have been forced into a late change for the Knights encounter, with young forward Tom Gilbert ruled out as he remains in isolation. Fellow rising star Heilum Luki returns for his first game since the Round 12 victory over the Warriors.