Juniors bond to help Cowboys
Cowboys coach Paul Green hopes the brotherly bond Ray Thompson and Robert Lui share off the field will translate to the playing field when they face the Dragons at WIN Stadium on Saturday.
The pair have grown up playing side by side in the Townsville juniors, and Thompson is the godson to Lui's son Matthias.
With the Maroons again whisking away star Johnathan Thurston and surprise game III selection Michael Morgan, Thompson and Lui have been tasked to make up for last week's capitulation to Cronulla.
Green says that last week's poor fifth-tackle options would be remedied somewhat with the insertion of Lui after the 25-year-old was cut from last week's 18-man bench.
"We've all seen what Rob's capable of, so let's just hope he brings that to the weekend for us," Green said of the Cowboys' only remaining genuine playmaker, who will wear the No. 7 jersey.
"Since he had his hammy he has been going okay, hasn't played a lot of footy so this is his chance to show what he can do at that level. I would like to think that Rob's excited about the opportunity this weekend to show what he can do. I'm sure Robbie is keen to put on a good show.
"[There is] pressure, but a little bit more excitement for him too. There's plenty to gain for him personally out of playing well for us on the weekend, so that's what we need him to do and I hope he does that."
Thompson will take over the reins at five-eighth after utility Rory Kostjasyn filled the void next to Thurston and Morgan over last two games.
While Thompson is himself a utility, the recently reinstated Cowboy has a lot more experience in the halves than the defensive-minded Kostjasyn.
"Rory has done a fantastic job there for us in the last few weeks but I think there are just a few more attacking options with those two in the halves," Green said.
"Ray has come back a little bit earlier [than expected]. He didn't have to have any operations or anything like that so he's been cleared and is ready to go.
"[Thompson and Lui] have grown up playing together so they should be pretty familiar with how each other plays."
The Cowboys welcome back Sam Hoare, who was dropped back to the Mackay Cutters last week in a strategic move by Green to have his young charge ready for the increased workload in Round 17.
"[Hoare] had only been getting 20 minutes and had a bye there in the middle of that, so we will probably be a bit more reliant on Sam this weekend," Green said.
"So with that sort of match conditioning under his belt he probably wouldn't have been able to go the distance for us, so the plan was to put him back [into Intrust Super Cup] and he played 60-65 minutes back there for Mackay and was player's player, so the plan was to get him a bit more footy time so he was in better nick for this week."
Green has listed forward Scott Bolton in a six-man bench.
"'Bolts' did what he does well, carried the ball. He was strong in defence they didn't have to do a hell of a lot of defence, but he was very good by all reports," Green said.
"We just need to finalise a couple of things on how we are going to play. We have two games of prep time this week so I just want to make sure we are clear on how we're going to play," he said of the extended bench.