Cowboys centre Kane Linnett hopes to stay at North Queensland for the remainder of his NRL career.

Linnett returns for Cowboys

The Cowboys have provided yet another high performance unit success story, with left centre Kane Linnett named ahead of their preliminary final against Cronulla at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Linnett suffered a calf strain in their qualifying final loss at AAMI Park, but will return to form a never-before-seen left edge combination with Javid Bowen, while regular left winger Antonio Winterstein's season looks to be over due to damaged rib cartilage.

With better footwork than Winterstein and a similar ability to steamroll opposite three-quarters, Bowen may add a more attacking dimension on the left edge against a smaller Jack Bird-Valentine Holmes combination that has been Cronulla's sore point defensively on occasions this year.

On the other side of the ball, Linnett and Bowen will need their guard up on every single play, as their opposites form a duo almost as lethal with ball in hand as Canberra's 'Leipana' combination.

But coach Paul Green is not worried about the lack of experience his left edge has together.

"I'm very confident, I wouldn't pick them if I didn't have confidence in them," Green said.

"[Bowen] has handled centre or wing, left or right, so he's done a good job wherever we've put him this year.

"He's developed along nicely for us. He's composed and he's a pretty laconic, easy-going sort of bloke so nothing too much fazes him."

 

The Cowboys have had as much turbulence in the last six weeks as they have over almost the last two years combined but Bowen has the confidence of knowing what it takes to play on the wing at North Queensland, having replaced Kyle Feldt during his suspension earlier in the year.

With the calming presence of 'Mr Fix-it' Linnett, Gavin Cooper and Johnathan Thurston on his inside, Bowen said he was comfortable being part of the brand new combination. 

"It should be good, having Kane back. He's a good defensive player and he looks after a lot of people on that edge," Bowen said.

"Even in attack he will be carrying strong and I will be there backing him up.

"I've played those couple of games on the wing when Kyle was out, so that will help.

"The senior players, like 'Johnno' and 'Coops', they help out a lot."

Linnett has a few medical boxes to tick before he is cleared to play, but Green said he was a likely starter at this stage. 

Winterstein was labelled "unlikely" by Green, but will be given every chance to play.

Apart from the left-edge change-up, the Cowboys are 1-17 from last week.