Thompson to get second chance
North Queensland has all but committed to handing makeshift five-eighth Ray Thompson another opportunity against the Titans next Saturday at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Despite his lack of impact with ball in hand (along with just two kicks) in their 14-6 loss to the Storm, the man coach Paul Green described as "tough" earlier in the week was all that and more.
Thompson stood strong in defence and was forced to make 36 tackles as Melbourne sent heavy traffic to his edge all night.
Missing just two tackles in 80 minutes in his first game back in first-grade, Thompson epitomised the improved defensive fight of his side which has been Green's focus for the majority of the season.
"I think [he has done enough to be selected next week], but we will go through the game fully this week," Green said.
"He was solid, probably showed that he hadn't been in our team for a while. He sort of felt his way [into the contest], and I thought he got better as the game went on. He was good defensively, which is what we needed him to do.
"Probably look for him to get a bit more involved in attack and just offer up a couple of options for us. We only really had one training day last week so it was always going to be tough for him to fit straight back into that key position."
The selection of right winger Kyle Feldt – who was also tough on Saturday, chipping in with 14 runs for 114 metres and a try – also looks likely after Green complimented the entire right side on their defensive stance.
Feldt was cut three rounds into the year for poor defence, but has returned with renewed commitment to that area of his game in the two games since replacing Matthew Wright.
"I thought defensively that edge looked pretty confident and pretty solid," Green said.
"I certainly thought the areas in our game that needed to be improved were definitely improved.
"Our try-line defence and just our resolve in defence was really good. Disappointed about the loss but that's one really big positive we can take out of it."
One Cowboy who is not doing enough, however, is back-rower Jason Taumalolo.
Taumalolo's season started with a bang but his production took a noticeable dive a couple of games after returning from a four-week layoff from a knee injury.
In a shock 11th hour selection Taumalolo was benched for Scott Bolton against the Storm, which Green hopes serves as a wake-up call for the 22-year-old.
"We wanted to start well defensively and that was the reason behind [his benching]," Green said.
"Defensively Jase has probably been targeted a bit. He's obviously very good in attack but he just needed to work on his defence.
"I hope [he takes it to heart]. I hope he responds in the right way and works a little harder in that art of his game and gets better at it."