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XXXX things you need to know: Round 17 v Panthers

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Sydney to face the Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon.


Todd Payten has opted to hand a well-earned rest to his six State of Origin stars. It will be the first break of the season for the group, who missed the Cowboys first bye of the season last weekend through their Origin commitments.


With the Origin stars sitting out, six players will have an opportunity to state their case for spots in the 17 for the back half of the season. Eighteen-year-old Jaxon Purdue will make his third NRL appearance in the centres, deputising for Valentine Holmes. Braidon Burns comes back into the side on the left wing for Murray Taulagi, while Jake Clifford will don the No.6 jersey in Tom Dearden’s absence. Harrison Edwards will make his second start at hooker for Reece Robson, while Kulikefu Finefeuiaki returns to the starting side in Jeremiah Nanai’s absence.


The Cowboys are one of the few teams in the NRL to have a respectable record against the three-time reigning Premiers in recent seasons. North Queensland and Penrith have split the previous four meetings two apiece, although the Panthers did win the Round 8 clash earlier this season 26-20. The Cowboys have not won a game in Penrith since 2016.


Valentine Holmes has dropped to third in the NRL’s point scoring race, six behind Nick Meaney’s 140. Jeremiah Nanai still sits inside the top five with 11 tries for the season. Chad Townsend and Scott Drinkwater are tied for second in the NRL with 17 try assists, while Drinkwater leads the competition with 19 line-break assists and three 40-20s. Reuben Cotter ranks second with 602 tackles.

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.