The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Sydney to take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in week one of the NRL finals.
1. FINALS FEVER
For the first time in five years the Cowboys are back in the finals. North Queensland’s most recent finals appearance came in the 2017 grand final defeat to the Melbourne Storm. The Cowboys have won 15 of their 27 finals appearances across 10 finals campaigns.
2. UNFAMILIAR FOES
North Queensland and Cronulla only met once in the regular season, which was a Sharks victory in Round 18. Although the Cowboys will take some confidence from the defeat, pushing the Sharks throughout despite being without eight first grade regulars due to Origin commitments and injury.
3. HESSY’S BACK
Coen Hess returns to the Cowboys side after missing the victory over the Panthers through suspension. Hess has been named on the interchange with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown reverting to the reserves. The remainder of Todd Payten’s side remains unchanged.
4. UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
A victory over the Sharks would trigger a first in Cowboys club history – earn hosting rights to a home preliminary final. North Queensland have reached the preliminary final on six previous occasions and all six times have been the away team.
5. CHASING A LEGEND
Valentine Holmes needs 11 points to break Johnathan Thurston’s single-season club record. Thurston’s 234 points in 2014 has stood as the highest single-season total by a Cowboys for eight years, surpassing Josh Hannay’s 230 from 2003. Holmes currently sits on 224 points for the season, which led the NRL.