Ponga to play fullback for Cowboys
The North Queensland Cowboys have named a revised team to face the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday night due to several injuries sustained during the Cowboys' golden point victory over the Brisbane Broncos. Matt Scott, Antonio Winterstein and Lachlan Coote were all injured, with scans revealing captain Matt Scott's season is over due to a damaged ACL.
Patrick Kaufusi will take his place in the number eight jersey, while Javid Bowen and Kalyn Ponga will step into the wing and fullback positions respectively. Sam Hoare will make his return to the NRL, coming off the bench in Kaufusi's usual position. Coach Paul Green is confident that Kaufusi can help maintain the Cowboys forwards' strong start to the season.
"He's been in our team now for a couple of weeks and has been playing pretty well for us so he probably deserves his chance," Green said.
Green is similarly confident in the abilities of teen sensation Kalyn Ponga, who will play his third game for the Cowboys, after debuting in week two of the finals last year.
"He's in a position that he's fairly comfortable with, he's played pretty much his whole career at fullback.
"I think the time's right for Kalyn to get his chance back in the team. There was a lot spoken about through the pre-season and whether or not he should have been in the team but now the time's right," he said.
On top of injuries, Green has to wait to find out if Jason Taumalolo's challenge of a grade two shoulder charge will be successful when he meets the judiciary on Tuesday night.
Although there have been recent changes made to crack down on shoulder charges, Green is confident they can have the charge dropped.
"We don't contest gradings unless we feel that it's warranted. We're not frivolous with wasting everyone's time with respect to the judiciary.
"We respect the laws that are in place. We wouldn't be arguing it if we didn't feel we had a decent enough chance," Green said.
Full team: Kalyn Ponga, Kyle Feldt, Justin O'Neill, Kane Linnett, Javid Bowen, Michael Morgan, Johnathan Thurston, Patrick Kaufusi, Jake Granville, Scott Bolton, Gavin Cooper, Ethan Lowe, Jason Taumalolo, Ben Hampton, John Asiata, Coen Hess, Sam Hoare, Shaun Fensom, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Corey Jensen, Ben Spina.