Cowboys set to stick with new bench strategy
Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott has backed coach Paul Green’s new dummy-half rotation strategy, saying utility Rory Kostjasyn serves the team well in the starting 13.
While the introduction of reduced interchange was intended to benefit zippy burst players such as Jake Granville, the hard-working Kostjasyn has actually seen his value increase in 2016.
With interchanges reduced to eight this year, the Cowboys have saved a precious substitution by starting Kostjasyn who hands the dummy-half duties to Granville midway through the first half.
Granville takes all of the fanfare for his ability to carve up opposition forwards out of dummy-half, and after a stellar campaign last year – which included a Round 7 hat-trick against the Warriors – it would be assumed that the skilled hooker would again take a place in the starting side.
Through last season Kostjasyn did a good job just fending off Ray Thompson for his place in the team, but it appears that the tackling machine – averaging 25 in just over 40 minutes per game – has met the challenge of starting and run with it this year.
Scott says that he and his fellow forwards have gotten a kick out of the extra substitution created with the new rotation.
“It gives us an extra interchange up our sleeve later, which comes in handy late in the game,” he said.
“I thought [last weekend] it was good, we had a bit of room to move. It’s had more impact than I thought it would, the interchange rule, especially if you get any injuries. For us, we have an extra one in case someone tanks a bit quickly or we get an injury.”
Green’s new dummy-half substitution pattern saves an interchange, as once Granville takes the field he plays out the game.
After missing four tackles and scooting out of dummy-half just twice under a hefty 70-minute workload against the Sharks in Round 1, Granville was promptly given the new role off the bench (with an average of 51 minutes in that role this season), which has yielded more than double the number of runs and a return to form.
“I think that’s one thing that’s been working for us. Rory’s a bit bigger body, probably slightly better defensively,” Scott said.
“Jake is obviously very quick out of dummy-half so when he comes on and a few of the opposition forwards are a bit tired that’s when he can really make an impact.
“Both hookers have their different qualities and that’s the way it seems to be working for us at the moment.”
When asked on departure to Brisbane about his thoughts on the hooking rotation for Friday, Green played the cards close to his chest.
But there would be little surprise in seeing the bigger-bodied Kostjasyn – who is more suited to the intense opening exchanges – again take the field first at Suncorp Stadium.