Cowboys looking towards world domination
Don't be fooled by the strength of the Cowboys' Downer NRL Auckland Nines squad this weekend, the reigning premiers simply want the minutes on offer before they jet to England to face the Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge according to back-rower Gavin Cooper.
Possessing arguably the strongest team at the tournament – with 13 players in their grand final winning squad named to play – Cooper said they are using the Nines as a stepping stone before heading to Headingly in a fortnight's time.
When it came to preparing for the weekend ahead the Cowboys only dedicated a mere 20 minutes of training according to their Nines skipper.
"I don't know about [if we're in it to win it]. This is just our only real good hit out for a few of the boys, I suppose in terms of high intensity minutes in the legs, before we head over there on Friday," Cooper told NRL.com.
"It'll give us a good go at working on our talk on the field and a little bit in defence and how you move. It will be a bit of fun though and the boys have bought into it."
What will prove beneficial too for North Queensland is the time spent away with one another.
Considering they're on the road predominately every fortnight in-season, the two overseas camps before the competition begins in March is handy considering the club's shortened pre-season.
"[Heading to England will] be a good chance to get together and get familiar in that team environment during the time away. We haven't had a chance to get away during the pre-season yet because it's been so short," Cooper said.
"Something we have spoken about all pre-season too has been being better than last year. I know that sounds pretty funny after winning the comp but we definitely want to build on last season.
"A lot of the things we did last season we can do a whole lot better so our focus is a little bit on the World Club and the upcoming season beyond that. But we're not going over there to come second either."
Cooper also gave massive raps to young gun Coen Hess, who he believes is too good to spend 2016 in Holden Cup.
At just 19, the Queensland representative weighs in at a whopping 115 kilograms and made his NRL debut as a replacement for Cooper himself in Round 24 last season.
"Coen Hess keeps getting bigger and bigger and he's definitely one for the future. He's obviously got one NRL game under his belt, but he played a few Queensland Cup games too against grown men which was really good for him," Cooper said.
"If you see him compared to a lot of the Under 20s then you'll see he's a man playing with boys I think so it'll be good to see take that next step up."