The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to the Gold Coast to take on the Titans at CBUS Super Stadium on Sunday.
1. VAL’S BACK
Superstar Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes has been named to return from a shoulder injury suffered in the State of Origin series finale. Holmes’ hasn’t featured in a North Queensland jersey since Round 16. His return sees Jake Granville revert to the interchange after a terrific two-week stint at fullback.
2. RUNNING WIDE
Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo is set for a shift in roles against the Titans. Taumalolo has been moved to the second row by Head Coach Todd Payten, marking his first start on an edge for more than two years. The 28-year-old has made 22 appearances in the second row in his career, but hasn’t played the position regularly since 2014.
3. CAREER FIRST
Taumalolo makes up one half of a brand-new second row pairing for the Cowboys, with young gun Heilum Luki named to make his first starting appearance at NRL level. Luki has made six appearances in his debut NRL season, all of which have come from the interchange playing as a middle forward. The 20-year-old came through the Cowboys Cairns Academy as a second-rower before joining the NRL squad in 2021.
4. CHANGE UP
Payten has made a number of other changes to his side to face the Titans. Ben Hampton will start at centre, pushing Murray Taulagi back to the wing. Tom Gilbert and Coen Hess have been promoted to start at prop and lock respectively, while Lachlan Burr and Ben Condon come into the side on the interchange.
5. TITAN TAMING
Despite losing the previous two clashes, North Queensland hold a commanding 16-10 lead in the overall head-to-head match up against the Gold Coast. Prior to dropping the last two fixtures, the Cowboys had won 10 consecutive matches, stretching from 2014 to 2020.