Cowboys recharge for finals run
The North Queensland Cowboys are making the most of their final bye for the season, taking their week off to rest and recover before heading into the final rounds of 2017.
Since the State of Origin period began the Cowboys have won five from seven, only losing to the Cronulla Sharks and Melbourne Storm in that time by four points and one point respectively.
The upturn in form coincided with the return of Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville in Round 10, while Michael Morgan stepped up to embrace his new leadership role in the absence of Johnathan Thurston.
Lock-forward Jason Taumalolo is confident the bye will have the Cowboys fresh-faced for the back end of the season, when they'll be doing their best to climb as high as they can on the ladder before the finals.
"A few of the boys needed that rest… It's a good freshen up to get us ready for the back end of the season to try and have that late run towards the finals," Taumalolo said.
"[The confidence] is pretty good. We wanted to have a good period. These last five games we had, we wanted to win all of them, but that tight loss against the Strom wasn't too bad."
"There was a lot of good things out of that game and it lead to back to back wins… It's great to go into a bye knowing we're not chasing our tails at the back end of the season."
Coach Paul Green is confident the Cowboys have improved in key areas that will allow them to be competitive as the finals approach, and is hopeful his side will continue to improve as they did after the first two months of competition.
"We're two thirds of the way through the season. We had a look at we're we were at after the first eight rounds and we weren't happy with a few areas of our game," Green said.
"I think the last eight rounds or so we've certainly improved in those areas that we wanted to. They're areas that you need to be good at if you want to challenge at the back end of the year.
"I think now that we’ve started to get a bit of consistency with that we're playing a better brand of footy."