Winterstein fancies title tilt

You know things are going right at the Cowboys when even Matt Scott starts cracking jokes.

Normally the proverbial straight-shooter, Scott took local media by surprise when asked about newbie Tautau Moga’s switch to the wing this week and his ability under the high ball.

“He has hands like a bunch of bananas, they’re massive,” Scott quipped.

That kind of remark indicates that the Cowboys are on a bit of a roll, winding up towards September and they know it.

The cliché ‘a week is a long time in rugby league’ does not ring much truer than for North Queensland. The talk not long ago was simply about keeping the season alive, but hit fast forward and the latest thing to come out of camp is that they are just as good a premiership chance as any team in the competition.

“We definitely are (as good a chance as any other to win the premiership). Our goal line defence has been really good, I think it stands out to me and can set us apart from other teams,” winger Antonio Winterstein told NRL.com.

“Our for-and-against record is pretty good as well, in that area we are pretty strong so that says something in itself.”

Winterstein is on a league-best seven-game try-scoring streak of his own after managing just two in the first six rounds of 2014.

“We are just doing the plays we train for and executing them on the night and I just have to do my job and that is getting over the try line and I’ve been pretty successful for the last couple of weeks. I just put it down to my teammates on the inside really,” he said, singling out fullback Michael Morgan.

Tied for fifth league-wide in try assists, Morgan frequently inserts himself into attacking sweeps, creating overlaps with his pace and facilitating the likes of Winterstein.

The winger credited the young custodian for his decision-making and feel for the game, but pointed to his run as the deadliest weapon moving into the business end of the season.

“I think his running game is pretty effective, he engages the line and he has the ability to break tackles and break the line so definitely his running game and the more early ball we can get Morgo, the more danger he is going to be for us going into finals. He’s our x-factor going forward I reckon.”

With finals on their mind looking forward, Winterstein told of the positive mood in the locker room at present, but admitted to more than their fair share of conflict in the losing period.

“The mood is the best it has been the best all season, I’m not going to lie. I think we have learned from previous losses away and it has really helped us to get the two wins on the trot and it’s really important this time of year with finals coming, so there’s definitely a good vibe around the club.”

“It was getting testy, but in a good way. That’s what we have done, we’ve stuck tight and we’ve just faced the music and just copped whatever anyone was saying about us and never stopped working hard. That’s why we are seventh on the ladder because we stuck tight and never really listened to the outside world and played for each other and played for the club so if we can keep doing that, we will be a team others will look at (as a real threat).

“I think everyone just took it upon themselves to really lift their game and stay tight and everyone knew if we were going to be individuals about it, we wouldn’t be sitting where we are on the ladder so we need to be a team and that’s what we’re doing.”