The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys open their 2022 campaign with a home showdown against the Bulldogs on Sunday.
1. HOME SWEET HOME
The Cowboys open their season with consecutive home games for the first time since 2015. Following Sunday’s Bulldogs clash, North Queensland face the Raiders at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday, March 19. Following a trip to Brisbane to face the Broncos in Round 3, the Cowboys return home for a Round 4 tussle with the Roosters.
2. STARTIN’ OUT STRONG
New skipper Chad Townsend, centre Peta Hiku and prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown will make their Cowboys debut on Sunday evening. Hiku will become Cowboy No.300 with Townsend to follow at 301 and Taunoa-Brown 302.
3. NEW HOME FOR HOLMES
Valentine Holmes is set to complete a shift to the centres he began towards the end of the last season. Holmes impressed during his pre-season trial hit-out against Brisbane at left centre, scoring a first-half try and forming a solid defensive partnership with winger Murray Taulagi. With Holmes moving to centre, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow takes over fullback duties fulltime.
4. NO HALF MEASURE
Tom Dearden has won the race to partner Townsend in the halves for Round 1. Dearden was engaged in a pre-season shoot-out with Scott Drinkwater and while both produced stellar trial performances, Cowboys Head Coach Todd Payten indicated Dearden’s defensive efforts won him the role. Sunday’s game will be Dearden’s first NRL appearance at five-eighth.
5. TONGA FUNDRAISER
The Cowboys, in conjunction with the Pasifika Communities Townsville, will hold a fundraiser for Tonga at Sunday’s game. Members and fans attending the game will be invited to make a gold coin donation, with members of Pasifika Communities of Townsville manning collection tins at entry and exit points.