The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Newcastle to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night.
1. VENUE CHANGE
The COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney has caused a late venue change for the Cowboys-Rabbitohs showdown. The NRL announced this morning the game would be moved to Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium, which marks the second fixture at the venue in as many weeks for the Cowboys after the Round 16 clash with Newcastle.
2. TRAVEL BUDDIES
The Cowboys and Rabbitohs have become accustomed to facing each other in unfamiliar locations. Outside of 1300SMILES Stadium, Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the Rabbitohs’ home ground Stadium Australia, the two teams have battled at the Sydney Football Stadium, Central Coast Stadium and Cairns’ Barlow Park.
3. FORM REVERSAL
Once owners of a dominant lead in the head-to-head match-up, North Queensland now trails 17-19, with one draw, across 37 games against South Sydney. The Rabbitohs have won the previous five meetings between the two sides, including a one-point 31-30 heartbreaker in 2020.
4. WELCOME BACK
The unavailability of Origin stars Valentine Holmes, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Francis Molo has forced Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten into a host of changes. Daejarn Asi has been named for his season debut, replacing Holmes at fullback. Connelly Lemuelu returns from injury to step in at centre for Tabuai-Fidow, while Tom Gilbert replaces Molo on the bench.
5. WAITING GAME
This time last week the Cowboys had three players and two staff, including Payten, stuck in isolation after the COVID-19 scare in Townsville. Young forward Tom Gilbert is now the only Cowboy remaining in isolation, but it is hoped he will be released tomorrow in time to take his place in the side on Friday night.