Cowboys begin Canberra mind games
North Queensland are adopting a gladiator mentality as they brave the Canberra cold in their clash with the Raiders this Saturday.
Kicking off at the favourable time of 3pm, the forecast is for a fine afternoon but temperatures are still expected to sit at 11 degrees at kickoff, dipping into single figures in the second half.
By comparison, 15 degrees will be the coldest Townsville gets this week.
In preparation for the change in conditions, Cowboys coach Paul Green consulted with assistant coach and Raiders mentor of five years, David Furner.
Often hosting games bordering on freezing, Furner gave his boss some helpful insight.
“There will be a ‘no-jumper’ policy,” Green said on Tuesday.
“The weather, obviously it’s cold – a lot colder than what we’re used to – but it’s out of our control.
“He [Furner] has obviously spent a lot of time in Canberra and he was always saying that [his team] would always look to see if the opposition were wearing jumpers in the warm-up, which means mentally they were half-beaten before they got there. So there will be no jumpers in the warm-up.”
Green’s Origin quartet of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Michael Morgan will get the jump in adjusting to the colder conditions with 11-degree temperatures forecast for Wednesday’s Origin II.
The four will fly direct to Canberra on Thursday and meet the team, but Green will have ready-made replacements if his men don’t pull up well for Saturday.
Halfback Robert Lui played well for the Townsville Blackhawks in his return from a hamstring injury and will travel with the team this week along with hooker Cameron King and forwards Ben Spina and Patrick Kaufusi.
“We’re taking a full squad of 18 to Canberra so that way all contingencies are covered,” Green said.
“If none of the Origin players play we’ll have a full team down there that’s prepared to play against Canberra. If any of them play then that’s a bonus.”
After putting off the resting of key players in previous weeks, Green has circled this weekend as a chance to give his stars a week off.
“If there is a game that (we will rest players), this will be the obvious choice,” he said.
“We’ve got the bye after the next one so this will be the game if I do rest anyone, this will most likely be it.
“It has nothing to do with Canberra, they’re a very good side and they’re the best attacking team in the competition.
“You can’t give away two points in this comp, it could mean the difference between finishing top four or top two and having a home semi-final.
“We’re not going into the game taking any game lightly but I’ve also got to keep the big picture in mind in that it is a long season and we need to be firing at the right end of the season. You don’t want to be peaking now."