Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan.

NRL.com Stats has crunched the numbers to pin-point the area each team must fix in 2018. The North Queensland Cowboys will be keen to avoid giving away so many seven-tackle sets this season.

Losing Johnathan Thurston is going to rock any kicking game, and the Cowboys obviously handled his absence reasonably well en route to last year's grand final.

Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin excelled last year in Thurston's absence, forcing the majority of the Cowboys' 44 drop outs from the opposition (ranked second in the NRL).

North Queensland also laid on 20 tries from their kicking game (fourth in the competition), but also a coach-killing 32 kicks that ran dead.

It meant the Cowboys conceded more seven-tackle sets than any other side in 2017 and created a lot of unnecessary work for themselves in defence.