NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Saturday June 4
Gates open: 3.00pm
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
Broadcast: Fox Sports
1. Dane Gagai, 2. Cory Denniss, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Nathan Ross, 5. Jake Mamo, 6. Jaelen Feeney, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Danny Levi, 10.Daniel Saifiti, 11. Tariq Sims, 12. Pauli Pauli, 13. Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 16. Josh King, 17. Mickey Paea, 20. David Bhana, 23. Pat Mata’utia.
1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathon Thurston, 8. Matthew Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. James Tamou, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjaysn, 15. Patrick Kaufusi, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Ben Hannant, 18. John Asiata.
Biggest challenge yet
The Knights have had their fair share of adversity this season, but challenges don’t come much bigger than playing the reigning premiers at their home ground.
The Cowboys have won all six of their games in Townsville so far this season and are enjoying strong attendance from fans.
With the likes of Johnathon Thurston, Matt Scott, Michael Morgan, Justin O’Neill and James Tamou all expected to back up from Origin as well, the Knights will have to head north with a determined mentality and shrug off the naysayers.
“They won the comp last year, so coming up against these guys has a different feel altogether,” Daniel Saifiti said on Wednesday.
“When we get the ball we have to get momentum and roll through them.”
Ross earning plaudits
At the ripe old age of 27, Nathan Ross looks as though he has come of age in the NRL.
Playing with the confidence of a veteran, Ross was named Players’ Player in Round 12 against the Eels with a try and eight tackle busts.
Also the Knights’ leading try scorer with five so far this season, Ross was already looking forwards to this weekend’s clash against the Cowboys after coming off the field in Round 12.
“We need to turn around right now and focus on coming up against a very good North Queensland outfit,” he told Knights TV in the sheds.
“(The game against the Eels) should build some confidence in this camp.”
Gagai to return from Origin
After scoring a try in State of Origin I on Wednesday night, Dane Gagai will be looking to come back and do a job for the Knights on Saturday.
He will no doubt be on a high after proving the difference between the Blues and the Maroons, and has been named to start at fullback with Jake Mamo shifting to the wing.
With the Cowboys’ boasting attacking potential from every position, Gagai will have to shrug off any fatigue he carries into the game as the last line of defence.
Cowboys’ monster pack
The Cowboys have one of the best sets of forwards in the competition, while the Knights have one of the most youthful.
Daniel Saifiti sees it as an opportunity to further his own game, and will be aiming to continue the outstanding work he’s done in recent weeks.
“To play them would be good personally,” he explained on Wednesday.
“We just have get in front of them and stop them somehow.”
THE FINAL SAY
“All the boys will be up for it,” Danny Levi said in a press conference on Tuesday.
“It’s a good chance for us young guys to really show what we can do.”