Rory Kostjasyn has been retained at hooker by North Queensland coach Paul Green for Monday's clash with the Titans. Copyright: Col Whelan/NRL Photos Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
They're a club that has known frustration at the hands of the whistle-blowers in big games in recent times and North Queensland coach Paul Green has expressed his concern that the tough calls are being weighted against his side in the opening three weeks of the season.
Tariq Sims was ruled by officials to have knocked on during last Saturday's loss to the Warriors but a broken nose and several stitches gave Green cause to believe that his lock forward had in fact been the victim of foul play.
Coming off the back of semi-final exits in 2012 and 2013 that were tainted by controversial refereeing decisions, Green believes the Cowboys are due some good fortune when they meet the Titans on the Gold Coast on Monday.
"He got a few stitches and a broken nose. It was an interesting decision to rule a knock-on on that occasion," Green said of the tackle on Sims. "You can clearly see a bit of contact on his head so I thought we might have been a bit of a chance of getting the ball back there but that wasn't the way the game panned out.
"You just want some consistency. I think there were some tough calls that went against us which I'm happy to cop, as long as we get a couple go our way. I just want to make sure that that happens."
Currently sitting in 11th position with one win from their opening three games, Green refuted any suggestion that there was cause for panic, reiterating his belief that better performances are "not that far away".
He has named an unchanged 17 with Rory Kostjasyn to start at hooker and Ray Thompson coming off the bench but says the longer preparation can be just as much of a minefield as a short turnaround.
"Sometimes longer weeks are harder to prepare for," Green said. "You've got more time on your hands and the tendency as coaches is you want to get a bit more work into them. You've got to be careful you don't overcook the boys either and come game-time they're flat from all the extra training that you've done.
"Long turnarounds can be tricky so we have to make sure that we get that right."
The Cowboys have given up handy leads to their opposition in all three games to date and while he is more concerned with delivering an 80-minute performance against the Titans, Green did concede that there will be additional emphasis on starting strongly.
"It's important that we start well because if you don't start well you just put yourself under pressure and I'm talking more there about how we actually play," he said.
"The tries that we've leaked early, we've also leaked some soft tries later in the game too. We need to save a couple of those but as I said, it's more about us getting into our groove and how we want to play early in the game."