Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote has vowed to help lighten the load on star playmaker Johnathan Thurston ahead of his first home game for North Queensland against the Storm next Monday night.
The display by Coote in his first NRL game since September 2013 was one of the few bright spots in the Cowboys' 44-22 defeat at the hands of the Broncos in Round 3 as coach Paul Green looked to spark an attack that had scored just 18 points in its first two games.
Coote's left foot was utilised for the Cowboys' first kick of the game in general play and it was clear after the battering Thurston copped in Round 2 that Green was looking for ways to alleviate all opposition attention being directed solely at his star half.
The interplay between Thurston, Coote and five-eighth Michael Morgan showed plenty of promise and the former Panther says that he needs to fast-track his understanding of Thurston's game in order to kick-start their season.
"Because he is an off-the-cuff sort of player he loves to look up and play off the back of certain things," Coote told NRL.com.
"I just sort of sniff around and wait for him to do his thing and play off the back of that. Obviously if he calls something I'll try and be there as best I can but it's hard because he's always one step ahead of everyone else. It's hard to keep up with him.
"Nothing can compare to a game at training. You can prepare all you want but every game is different and hopefully next week we sort of spark and we can get that combination going and hopefully it won't take too much longer.
"We'll work on everything at training and try and prepare as best we can."
Having arrived from Penrith as Matt Bowen's successor in the Cowboys' No.1 jersey ahead of the 2014 season, Coote's debut for his new club was delayed by 12 months due to an ACL injury suffered in the pre-season Auckland Nines.
Given the form of Michael Morgan at fullback last season Green trialled Coote at five-eighth for the first part of pre-season training and gave each time in both positions in the trial games.
But when it came time to pick his team for Round 1 Green went with the formation that finished last season in fifth place before shaking things up after two losses to start the season.
"Before Christmas I trained at five-eighth and then they sort of felt as though 'Greeny' wanted me to play fullback more," Coote said.
"At the start of the season he just thought I needed to play a bit more football. We have been working on our combinations but it will only get better from here.
"I felt like it was good [against Brisbane] and hopefully as we play more games in the weeks ahead we'll be able to develop those combinations even more.
"I'm happy there (at fullback) at the moment, I've trained pretty much the full pre-season there and I'm happy to stay there at the moment. Blowing the cobwebs out I felt good and confident under the high ball and stuff like that so there were no worries there and the more games I play the more confident I'll get."
With losses to start the season against the Roosters, Knights and Broncos the Cowboys now embark on an unusual stretch of three consecutive Monday night games against the Storm (home), Panthers and Rabbitohs (both away).
Although Coote said that Monday night games don't hinder his own preparation, he conceded that there is a different feeling having to wait all weekend for a game.
"It is different, especially coming off a long turnaround like we have now," said Coote, who had 13 runs for 109 metres and a line-break assist in his NRL return. "That's sort of good in a way because we can recover and get our bodies right but preparing for a Monday night, it doesn't feel right.
"But that's part of the game now and something we've got to prepare for. We've just got to prepare like we would for any other game, like it's a Saturday night game."