O'Neill, Winterstein dumped by Green

Cowboys coach Paul Green has run out of patience with his under-performing backline, dropping 2015 premiership-winning duo Justin O'Neill and Antonio Winterstein.

Green has moved Kane Linnett back to centre from the second row to partner rookie Enari Tuala, who has made the most of his recent call-up to the NRL ranks.

Ben Hampton will don the No.14 jersey as a utility, the Mareeba local has been one of the best for the Cowboys this year at centre, but will likely relieve Jake Granville at hooker in the midway stages of the match. Javid Bowen has replaced Winterstein on the left wing.

The changes have been a long time coming, and the Cowboys' poor performance against the last-placed Eels in Darwin on Saturday night has led to Green giving younger players their opportunities.

"From here on in my responsibility is to pick the best team that I think can get the job done on the weekend," Green said.

"Given our performance on Saturday night, I think something had to change."  

The injection of youth provided by the likes of Tuala worked wonders for the Cowboys when the played Manly two weeks ago, and Green is hopeful Bowen can make the most of his opportunity. 

Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein.
Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Green wasn't shy about what he wants to see from Bowen, saying that "a few tries would be good. He's been there or thereabouts, he's had a couple of opportunities so I'd really like to see him make the most of this one.

"We all know what he can do in attack so it's important he brings that on the weekend … I wouldn't have put him in if I didn't think he could bring something to the team. I think that's the most important thing for us at the moment, we've got to have everyone contributing."

Linnett is making his return to the centres after a lengthy stint on the sideline due to a pectoral injury, followed by a return into the second row with Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper representing Queensland.

Despite the return to his preferred position, Green said Linnett's response was characteristically subdued.

"Kane doesn't get too excited about too much so he just said, 'yeah, OK, no worries.' He's played a lot more footy in the centres so he's comfortable out there."

With Cooper the only Origin representative rested at training so he can play a full 80 minutes on Friday night, the Cowboys need to seize their opportunity to turn their season around.

"Hessy and Morgo both trained, it's a good sign, they're well aware we need to bank some wins and they want to do what they can to help the team."