Hot conditions in Townsville will help the Cowboys in their run of early home matches in 2014, says coach Paul Green. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
New Cowboys coach Paul Green is hoping to turn up the heat on visiting teams to North Queensland with confirmation his side will play six of their first 10 games at home in 2014.
Reaction to the 2014 NRL draw released on Wednesday was largely positive out of Townsville with both Green and club CEO Peter Jourdain welcoming a strong presence at home to start the season.
While Jourdain pointed to a pre-season schedule that will take the Cowboys to Auckland, Toowoomba and Redcliffe, Green was more focused on the 30-degree average temperature in Townsville in March and making life as uncomfortable for opposition teams as possible.
"Absolutely, the hotter the better for us earlier in the year," Green said. "I know teams don't particularly like coming up here because of the weather – they're different conditions to play in – so we'll be looking to take advantage of that if we can.
"It's good to be at home early given that we are away with our trial matches. Hopefully we can get off to a good start, like everyone's hoping to do, and build a bit of momentum.
"You always want to get off to a good start and bank some points early, particularly when you've got a squad such as ours with a high number of players involved in Origin. It's important to bank those points early."
New Cowboys assistant coach David Furner will be particularly valuable in Round 1 as his former club, the Raiders, comes to town.
With Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate all but certainties to figure in the 2014 State of Origin Series, Green conceded that the period between their trip to Canberra in Round 11 and home game against the Titans in Round 20 will be particularly challenging.
"If you look at that middle period of the year... Origin's always a challenge for us, just given the players that are involved, but I think we've got the Storm at home and then the only other home game between then and Round 20 is the Rabbitohs. So that's a bit of a challenge for us there," Green said.
The Cowboys will be without their Origin stars for the Round 17 clash with the Dragons and their inclusion for games against the Storm (Round 12) and Knights (Round 15) will depend on how they back up after Origin.
Despite the disrupted period, Jourdain is pleased that the three-week gap between Origin games has been retained.
"We took feedback from [the players] and from a player welfare perspective and the amount of mental and physical preparation that's required for Origin, we thought it was better long-term player welfare that the length of the Origin period stays as it was," Jourdain said.
"We're generally pretty happy with our draw. Very happy that the first 20 games have been scheduled, that's great for our members, corporates and fans. We're very happy that we've got six Channel Nine games in the first 20 rounds, both home and away.
"We've also got nine Saturday night Fox [Sports] games and given that Fox have said publicly that's their No.1 pick of the round now, that's a good sign for us, that we're up there in their thoughts."
Jourdain expects that Suncorp Stadium will be close to a sell-out for their Round 2 clash with the Broncos in Brisbane and said that the club will work closely with the local Australian Defence Force fraternity to make their clash with the Eels on April 26 a memorable occasion.