For North Queensland this weekend it is a case of who backs up from Origin?. And how does Paul Green manage his roster through this period?. The Cowboys have had an up and down (and tough) month and they need a win to stay at the pointy end of the top eight. So it will come down to how and who Paul green uses post Origin.
No team in the NRL should be considered easy beats, however Newcastle have a depleted roster and one of their main hard men (Sims) has all but moved to St George. It presents an interesting challenge for the Cowboys. Origin was an old fashioned beat up and their bodies would be sore. Especially Tamou and Scott, who took heavy contact only a couple of days ago.
What favours Newcastle
You should never try to win by relying on another team to lose. But Newcastle have been firming in recent weeks and showed improved form (especially against the Eels). They showed that if they play a bit of ad lib football they can throw it around and put points on. If they can keep on their toes and bank on some of the Origin players running out of a bit of steam towards the back end of the contest, they might come within a few points of a win. Even though Nathan Brown is trying to re-build a side and work on the team structures, against a side like the Cowboys, at home with Newcastle on a 5 day turnaround and where a win will be hard to come by, Brown should just throw out the play book. He should let Newcastle play what's in front of them, throw the ball around and see what happens. The Cowboys have struggled in the past with teams throwing the ball around in second phase play and if they can keep the ball in play as much as possible they might tire out weary legs.
What favours the Cowboys
A lot of players will tell you they like backing up after Origin because they are still in the Origin mindset. Thurston and Morgan will relish been back on their own turf where conditions will suit more adventurous play. Coote goes back to number 1 and he could be the game breaker if he gets involved in some attack and gets his hands on the ball. Newcastle really pushed hard against the Eels and they are on a 5 day turnaround and they are making the toughest road trip in Rugby League. Coming off two blockbusters (Melbourne and Brisbane) and then their depleted side having to put in big efforts against St George, this is a game the Cowboys will welcome with open arms. Expect the Cowboys to stick to their recipe and Play to their structures. I would think they will go back to Thurston linking with Cooper on the left and Morgan running two wide on the right (if he plays). They wont be trying to blow Newcastle off the park, just be happy with the win.
The WrapI'd expect it to be a routine win for the Cowboys, Taking nothing away from Newcastle, they are just down too many troops and if we look at the game pragmatically it is first v last. And at the end of the day it's a team of superstars v a team of up and comers. Cowboys by 14. 28-14.
The North Queensland Cowboys V The Newcastle Nights, Saturday 04/06/2016, 5:30pm, 1300 smiles stadium
Cowboys: 1.Coote 2.Feldt 3.O'Neill 4.Linnett 5.Winterstein 6.Morgan 7.Thurston 8.Scott 9.Granville 10.Tamou 11.Cooper 12.Lowe 13.Taumalolo Interchange: Kostjasyn, Kaufusi, Bolton, Hannant.
Possible Origin Team Changes: Morgan still yet to pass a final concussion test. If failed Thompson comes in. O'Neill (TBD), Bowen will come in. Thurston and Scott have both said they are backing up, the mail is only one will play.
Newcastle: 1.Gagai 2.Denniss 3.Mata'utia 4.Ross 5.Mamo 6.Feeney 7.Hodkinson 8.Mataora 9.Levi 10.Saifiti 11.Sims T. 12. Pauli 13.Smith Interchange: Randell, Fitzgibbon, King, Paea.
Possible Origin Team Changes: Gagai expected to play.