Dry weather a perfect Storm for Cowboys
The football gods may just be smiling on North Queensland.
It is something out of their control but Cowboys players have accepted that a big factor in success in Saturday's Preliminary Final against the Storm in Melbourne lies with the weather.
One of the NRL's most prolific passers, the Cowboys typically like a fast, dry track to play their expansive brand of football while the Storm – masters of the arm wrestle much like last week's opponent Cronulla – are perfectly comfortable playing on the typically dewy AAMI Park turf.
Finding the last wet home game for the Cowboys is a job for NRL historians, and coach Paul Green was relieved at the news of a dry weather forecast.
"That's good because we are not used to playing in the rain; we haven't seen rain up here for a couple of years," he said on Tuesday.
"On the night [Round 25 in Melbourne], they probably played a better wet-weather game. They certainly kicked better than us so we are probably not as used to it as what they are."
Forecasts say that Saturday is the only clear day of the week, but there is no escaping a somewhat slippery track with humidity levels expected to reach almost 70 per cent by kick-off, stressing the need for a solid kicking game.
With more difficulty playing expansive football the Cowboys coach has highlighted a good completion rate and good kicking game as key areas for their knockout clash.
"We will have to be good in that area – the kicking game in big games is really important, right up there with completion rate. In finals footy you need to be above 80 per cent," Green said.
"I thought they shared [the kicking duties] around pretty well [last week].
"The focal point wasn't just on one player which is good; which makes you a little bit harder to defend. But [Melbourne] would have done their homework and are always well prepared."
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote is the man most are looking to again take the pressure off co-captain Johnathan Thurston after last week putting in one of the best kicking performances by any Cowboy all season.
That deft kicking game is something that was lacking at times in their 2014 campaign with now-five-eighth Michael Morgan occupying that sweeping role last year.
"It is definitely an added dimension this year, with 'Cootey' there," centre Kane Linnett said.
"You've got Cootey that can come down the left side with a left-foot kick too. It obviously adds a little bit extra into the team."
The Cowboys will run on 1-17 from last week but will line up with a stronger team than that of Round 25 with the additions of Morgan and prop James Tamou who both sat out with injury.