NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
2013 NRL Premiership
By W D Nicolson - March 4, 2013
Last Year: 5th with a 15-9 (+152) record and 34 points.
Dudded in a semi final last year by the dearly departed 'Benefit of the Doubt' rule, the Cowboys will begin 2013 as a genuine premiership threat. But until Johnathan Thurston re-signs will all focus be on a single goal in Townsville?
| Click Logo for 2013 Team Preview | Link added when published
Scott Moore impressed a lot of people in the trials with his speed out of dummy half and has the inside running on the hooking job. Otherwise there are unlikely to be any new faces in the starting team, though the return of Tariq Sims from a second broken leg is a fair addition. Curtis Rona, Clint Greenshields and Rory Kostjasyn are two other signings who might see some time in the top grade this season - Kostjasyn could even be part of the bench in Round 1.
BEST LINE-UP | If every player is available, this is the top squad listed 1-17.
Kalifa FAI-FAI LOA
Remainder of Top 25 Squad/QLD Cup:
Alex ELISALA, Kyle FELDT, Clint GREENSHIELDS, Sam HOARE, Felise KAUFUSI, Rory KOSTJASYN, Blake LEARY, Ethan LOWE, Robert LUI, Tyson MARTIN, Anthony MITCHELL, Joel RIETHMULLER, Curtis RONA, Ashton SIMS, Ricky THORBY, Wayne ULUGIA, Antonio WINTERSTEIN.
Notables from U20s:
Sam FOSTER, Chris GREVSMUHL, Zac MACKAY.
PREDICTED ROUND 1 TEAM
Morgan is out with a fractured jaw so Lui will get a first crack at the #7. Henry seems to favour Hall starting with Cooper and Johnson, so the dynamic backrow duo of Taumalolo and Tariq Sims will likely be on the bench. It's down to Thompson v Kostjasyn v Mitchell for the utility spot, while Ashton Sims is up against Thorby for the last bench spot.
Bench: Thompson/Kostjasyn/Mitchell, Taumalolo, T Sims, A Sims.
Make sure you take a look at our dedicated NRL Injured List
Chris Grevsmuhl has been one to watch in the NYC for a couple of years, but the Cowboys are rather stacked in the backrow so injuries seem his only path to a first grade debut. Curtis Rona, Kyle Feldt and Wayne Ulugia represent the youthful depth in the outside backs, while Felise Kaufusi, Tyson Martin, Sam Hoare and Blake Leary will all need outstanding QLD Cup campaigns to get a look in. Hooker Alex Elisala is way down the depth chart at hooker but impressed in his NYC career.
HOME GAME YOU CAN'T MISS
Round 2 against the Storm at 1300 Smiles Stadium (yes that's what it is called now) on Saturday March 16 is going to be a cracker. The Cowboys open on the road against the Dogs - so they will not be keen to start 0-2 if they drop that Round 1 game. Another reason Round 2's game is a must see is because the Cowboys have just three home games in their opening nine matches. The match later in the year that'll draw a huge crowd is against the Broncos in Round 20 on Friday July 26.
Home form determines Top 4 finish.
Lock the Cowboys into the Top 8 but as they found out last year - playing the second week on the road isn't ideal... getting a dud video referee also doesn't help but if North Queensland want to seriously contend they need to finish Top 4 and probably Top 2 to gain two guaranteed home semi finals. There are elements of this team that just look unstoppable on paper, and the form of Thurston and Bowen decides just how unstoppable they are in reality.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTED REGULAR SEASON FINISH
4th | This team has been building for a couple of years towards a run at a Grand Final... while they may ultimately fall a game short - there is little doubt when the Cowboys are rolling, very few teams can stop them.
Remember if you want game-specific Late Mail every week, then check out our Round Previews Every Wednesday and they are updated with all the very latest Late Mail on Friday.
If we are missing any players on this list - please comment below, reply on Twitter or email this address.
The Prestigious Award returns for a 4th season in 2013.
Review all of the voting results from 2012 right here
Remember you can track all the votes each week after each match in 2013 via the Twitter hashtag #nrltweetpoty