Refreshed Cowboys ready to roll
It has been 16 days since the North Queensland Cowboys last played an NRL game, and for a side in good form before the bye the week off can be seen as coming at the wrong time.
But while the Cowboys played one of their most consistent games in months in their win over St George Illawarra in Round 17, the consensus around North Queensland is that the time off ahead of Monday night's clash with Manly was nothing less than therapeutic.
Much of the team stayed down in Sydney to spend time with family and friends, including utility Rory Kostjasyn, who said he and his teammates will reap the rewards of the extended hiatus.
"I feel refreshed mentally and keen to get back here and into training," Kostjasyn said of the five days on New South Wales' Central Coast.
"Footy's stressful so going home and seeing family and friends takes your mind off footy and remotivates you."
Veteran bookend Matt Scott relished the time off after battling a neck complaint similar to that of fellow front-rower James Tamou last season.
Like Tamou, Scott is resigned to the prospect of off-season neck surgery after managing the injury that has gradually gotten worse over the past few years, but says his symptoms have settled down after a cortisone injection before Origin Game III and is ready to tackle the backend of the season in better health.
"You have a week off but it doesn't mean the fatigue from the whole year is going to disappear, but it's certainly going to help with managing niggling injuries," Scott said.
Scott was also complimentary of the coaching staff's approach to giving players such a long break at the business end of the season.
"It's probably the longest and just talking to a few of the guys that had that break also, it's the longest that they can remember having.
"It's great that Greeny and the rest of the staff have the confidence to give the guys a break and obviously our position on the ladder helps that a bit, so I'm sure it's going to do everyone a world of good."
Meanwhile, back-rower Jason Taumalolo said he felt the extended time away had a refreshing effect on the schedule as the club enters the final third of the season.
"It feels like starting over again from Round 1, but every game comes at a consequence so I guess the hardest thing now is thinking about Monday night and trying to get out of holiday mode," Taumalolo said.