Cowboys 2019 draw snapshot

Here is all you need to know about the North Queensland Cowboys' 2019 Telstra Premiership draw.

Teams they play twice: Dragons, Broncos, Sharks, Raiders, Storm, Bulldogs, Titans, Rabbitohs, Wests Tigers.

Teams they play once: Warriors, Eels, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Knights, Panthers.

Day-by-day breakdown: Thursday - Four, Friday - Eight, Saturday - Nine, Sunday – Three.

Five-day turnarounds: 1 (Rd 19).

Kick-off: North Queensland won't leave the Sunshine State in the first five rounds - hosting the Dragons, playing the Broncos in Brisbane before returning to Townsville for duels with the Sharks, Raiders and Storm. It should be an early advantage in the warmer earlier rounds for the Cowboys after a long summer training in the tropical heat.

Five key matches

Broncos (Round 2, Suncorp Stadium): The best rivalry in the NRL continues to deliver, with two more close contests in 2018. The Cowboys were denied by a padded goal-post in a four-point loss at Suncorp Stadium in the first clash between these sides last season, before taking revenge with a 34-30 victory in round 22 in front of a home crowd.

Sharks (Round 3, 1300Smiles Stadium): North Queensland may have failed to live up to expectations last season but they started their campaign on the right note with a 20-14 win over Cronulla in round one. But as the season when on the Sharks started to find their groove and got the better of the Cowboys 28-16 in round 23.

Souths (Round 9, Suncorp Stadium): The boot of Bunnies halfback Adam Reynolds saved South Sydney from two losses to the Cowboys in 2018. In both games scores were level with just minutes remaining until the Rabbitohs called on Reynolds to secure victory with a penalty kick and a field goal.

Eels (Round 10, 1300Smiles Stadium): The Eels may have got away a win against the Cowboys early on in the 2018 season but in Johnathan Thurston's final game and with the wooden spoon on the line, there was no way the Cowboys would settle for another loss in round 24 – and they didn't as they absolutely thrashed the Eels 44-6 at 1300 Smiles Stadium.

Storm (Round 5, 1300Smiles Stadium): The Cowboys haven't been able to defeat the Storm since the 2015 finals series. They came close to ending their eight-game losing streak in their last meeting in round 12, but a Cameron Munster field goal shattered any hope of that and left the hosts with a 7-6 defeat.

Toughest stretch: Rounds 17-22. The Cowboys are likely to be less affected by Origin than has been the case in recent years but they'll have their hands full either way heading out of the rep period and the round-16 bye. The run starts with premiers Sydney Roosters in Sydney before returning home to host the Rabbitohs, a tough trip to Cronulla off a five-day turnaround then Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval before returning home to face traditional rivals Brisbane.

And another thing: The Cowboys have arguably the NRL's biggest contingent of travelling fans, meaning a Saturday slot for home games can help those from outside the Townsville area get to and from games. The 2019 draw contains an increase from five Saturday home games to six, with four Friday games (down from five) and two Thursday games.