The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Sydney on Friday to face Penrith at Panthers Stadium.
1. BIG SHOES TO FILL
Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo and star winger Kyle Feldt have been ruled out of the Panthers clash. Coen Hess replaces Taumalolo in the No.13 jersey, while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow slots on to the wing for Feldt. Taumalolo is hopeful for returning next week, while Feldt is facing six weeks on the sideline.
2. TURNING THE TIDE
The Cowboys will be looking to overturn a three-game losing streak against the Panthers on Friday night. North Queensland’s last victory against Penrith came in Round 23 of the 2019 season at 1300SMILES Stadium with Feldt crossing for a double. Penrith lead the overall head to head matchup 23-19.
3. BACK IN THE FOLD
Jake Granville and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown have been named for their first games in the top grade since Round 7 and Round 5 respectively. Granville has been in impressive form for the Mackay Cutters, while Taunoa-Brown produced a barnstorming performance for the Northern Pride last weekend, running for 241 metres from 22 carries.
4. ON THE ROAD
North Queensland embark on a two-game road trip over the next two rounds. Following Friday’s blockbuster clash against the Panthers, the Cowboys battle the Gold Coast next Thursday night with both teams to be without any State of Origin players.
5. STATS UPDATE
Valentine Holmes is closing in on injured competition-leading point scorer Ryan Papenhuyzen. Holmes’ 107 points trails the Melbourne fullback by just 20 points. The Cowboys centre is averaging almost 10 points a game this season and is on track to become the first Cowboy to break the 200-point barrier since Johnathan Thurston in 2016. Jeremiah Nanai is tied for second with 10 tries from 11 games. Injured skipper Jason Taumalolo sits third in the NRL with 720 post-contact metres, while Chad Townsend is second with 13 try assists.