Fresh off a first-start win the Cowboys have named an unchanged line-up for Saturday night’s clash in Parramatta, which would be the sixth consecutive competition game with the same 17 dating back to season 2015.
Tuesday’s team announcements have become standard fare, but coach Paul Green would not have it any other way. When asked whether he was bored with the idea of putting out the same team every week, he immediately replied, “No.”
“Continuity is always a good thing. As I’ve been saying, it just allows you to build on your combos so while we can do it I will take it,” Green said.
Continuity is a luxury afforded to very few teams in the game of rugby league, and it seems there are only benefits to be taken from running the same side out every week.
The reigning premiers are winning games, improving combinations and staying healthy doing so, but it raises the question of where the younger, developing contingent sits in the scheme of things.
The threat of reduced intensity as those players working hard each week are never really in the running for a first grade call-up is always a coaching curveball, but the Cowboys mentor is happy with the look of his developing talent.
“Looking for continual improvement is important, and we’ve got some good young talented kids and they’ve got to be pushing the more experienced guys,” he said.
“I pick on form. We do a review process and it’s not just about the result, it’s about how we play.”
Once maligned for his extreme inconsistencies week-to-week, 2015 Lock of the Year Jason Taumalolo – the youngest player to make his NRL debut for the Cowboys – has experienced the struggle to stay in the 17-man team each week.
The 22-year-old says it is a tough grind working up to first-grade level and staying there, but is also impressed by the intensity he is seeing from the whole squad behind the scenes.
“Those guys [on the fringe of selection] work us [NRL] guys really hard,” he told NRL.com.
“They help us stay motivated and get ready for the game every week. It’s good to have that level of competition and intensity at training.”
While the Cowboys have named an unchanged 17 from their win over Cronulla on Saturday there is doubt hanging over winger Antonio Winterstein and prop Matt Scott.
Winterstein left the field midway through the second half against Cronulla with concussion symptoms after some friendly fire from teammate Gavin Cooper, while Scott will need to prove his fitness after sitting out of Tuesday afternoon’s training run.