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Five things you need to know: Round 23 v Broncos

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys host the Brisbane Broncos at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.


One of the biggest days in the history of rugby league in North Queensland is almost here. In a historic first, the Cowboys NRLW and NRL teams will play at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on the same day, with both clashes against the arch-rival Broncos. It will be the inaugural home game for the women, who are fresh off their maiden victory in the NRLW. The NRLW kicks off at 12.50pm, with the NRL to follow at 3pm.


Young guns Heilum Luki and Griffin Neame return to Todd Payten’s side for the XXXX Derby clash. Luki has been sidelined since Round 16 with a facial fracture, while Neame missed the Titans fixture last weekend through concussion. Both have been named on the interchange, with Coen Hess to start in the second row in place of Kulikefu Finefeuiaki, who is out after suffering a head knock last weekend.


Valentine Holmes is out for four games through suspension, opening up a spot at left centre for Todd Payten to fill. Payten confirmed on Wednesday that veteran outside back Kyle Feldt will return to the team, although the final make-up of the backline is yet to be decided. Feldt has been playing centre in the Queensland Cup, while Semi Valemei and Murray Taulagi also have experience at centre at NRL level.


Despite the loss earlier in the season, North Queensland has enjoyed a rich run of recent results against the Broncos. The Cowboys have won four of the previous six encounters, stretching back to the 2020 season. Payten’s side registered a commanding 40-26 victory in the corresponding fixture at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Round 16 last season.


Chad Townsend continues to sit towards the top of most major kicking statistics in the NRL. Townsend leads the competition with five field goals for the season and 164 attacking kicks. His 9,120 kick metres and 296 total kicks both rank second behind Shaun Johnson. Valentine Holmes’ quest for a second-successive point scoring title has been dashed by suspension, but he still sits inside the top five with 170 for the season. Scott Drinkwater leads the NRL with 23 try assists and sits third with 26 line-break assists.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.