Steven Ross, North Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
The bookies have North Queensland as almost unbackable favourites against Wests Tigers on Saturday night, paying just $1.11 and giving the visitors an 18.5 point start, but the Cowboys are not buying any of it.
Speaking on Friday afternoon, coach Paul Green had just one message for his team ahead of their game – do not worry about those on the other side of the ruck.
While things at Concord have been turbulent of recent times, the Cowboys are coming off a 20 point defeat of the Gold Coast Titans last Saturday.
Their toughest challenge this week is to simply keep focused throughout the 80 minutes in what poses as a danger game that could easily see them out of the top eight by the conclusion of Round 22.
“There are no games that you should or shouldn’t win. The NRL is too tight a competition. If you turn up being off five percent on any given day, there’s a fair chance you’ll get beaten. So while they (Tigers) have got those distractions happening, they have still got some very good players in their team,” Green said pointing toward under-siege captain Robbie Farah and star prop Aaron Woods.
Though a well-overused tagline in rugby league land, the mindset in the north at the moment is just ‘taking it game by game’, and so long as their finals hopes rest in their own hands, Green sees no reason for change.
“It’s very easy to get caught up in the week-to-week wins and losses. I think over the course of the next five weeks, if you win the majority of the games you will be there or thereabouts.
“It does us no good looking too far ahead, we have a focus on this week and getting a job done this week, dust ourselves off after that, look at who we play the next week and continue that sort of mindset.”
The late mail says James Tamou, who got through two contact sessions during the week, could be ready to rumble after his condition improved a little more than originally thought when teams were announced.
“He’s improved as the week’s gone on. We aren’t going to take any unnecessary risks but by the same token if he’s right to play I’d like to play him,” Green said.
“You’re mucking around with a neck. It’s not like it’s a cork or a hamstring tear, you’re playing around with something fairly serious and if you risk further injuring it, it could jeopardise the rest of his season and not just next week.”