Refreshed Cowboys chasing consistency
The North Queensland Cowboys have named the same 17 players that lost to the Brisbane Broncos in Round 26 to take on the Cronulla Sharks in week one of the finals.
It comes after a run of injuries to key players, including captain Gavin Cooper and winger Antonio Winterstein in the last month of the competition that caused the Cowboys to struggle.
Coach Paul Green is hopeful that the added consistency, coupled with a 10-day break since their clash with the Broncos, will add some potency to the Cowboys' attack which has been lacklustre for the past few weeks.
"It's definitely nice to be able to get a bit of consistency, I think within that three weeks though we haven't had a full week of everyone training and… having that longer turnaround this week hopefully we'll be able to get a few sessions where we can get most of the team on the paddock for all of the session," Green said.
The Cowboys met the Sharks in Round 24 when they were defeated by 10 points despite a second-half resurgence, and Green is confident that both teams will be playing a similar style of football to what they were three weeks ago.
"It's fresh in their minds, I think how teams play at the back end of the year going into finals doesn't change a hell of a lot," he said.
"Having played them that recently I don't expect too much different from them, they might come up with a couple of things they think they can get us on, they scored a couple of soft tries through the middle so I imagine they'd take us on through there again."
They may not face the pressure of being favourites this week but it's still elimination football for the Cowboys, and the premiership-winning coach does prefer the underdog tag.
"Whoever loses your season is finished, so we've got just as much to lose as they have but they deserve to be favourites, they're the current premiers and we're not at full strength so we don't have that pressure of expectation on us which is a good way to go into games," Green said.
"They're a tough team, they won the comp last year, plenty of talent through their team it will be a good tough game, good forward battle, that's what I'm expecting."