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Foreign lessons: Hess find form in unfamiliar territory

Playing centre was foreign to Coen Hess up until a month ago but the former Maroons forward believes the late-season switch has helped him improve his form for North Queensland.

With the Cowboys suffering a raft of injuries in their outside backs, Hess was shifted from his usual position in the second row recently and has acquitted himself well in the unfamiliar position.

Hess didn’t imagine he’d be playing in the centres this time of the year but is happy to roll with the punches.

"I’m enjoying it and I've probably been playing a lot better footy than I was at the start of the year," he said.

"For me it's about getting some good strong carries in there and playing out there in the centres allows that and a bit less defensive load and more attacking.

"The more time I spend out there, the more comfortable I'll be. It’s just about getting to a good decision to read the play and then shut the play down or make the tackle."

After turning 23 on Wednesday, he’s hoping for a belated birthday gift in the form of a win over the Knights on Saturday.

Knights v Cowboys - Round 22

"Yeah for sure, that’d be really nice. They're obviously a quality team, probably a bit like us at the moment, struggling for form," he said.

Coming home with the two points will potentially spell the end for the Knights’ finals campaign, although Hess is more concerned about the way his team will play at McDonald Jones Stadium.

"I’m not really too worried about their finals chances. Probably more worried about ourselves and trying to put together a few decent performances and get as many wins as possible for big Matty Scott before he retires, so that's really our main motivation going into the game."

Jordan Kahu returns from an eye socket injury suffered in round seventeen, Hess said communication between them will be paramount this weekend.

"It's really important between the winger and centre, even our edges as a whole. We need to be communicating well there," he said.

"With guys like KP [Kalyn Ponga] coming around the back it can be pretty dangerous so we’ll be doing our best to communicate and shut that down."

With the Cowboys now out of the race for a finals spot, Hess said it was never too early to start planning for 2020.

"It probably gives us an opportunity to give those younger fellas a lot of game time and getting some good performances in," he said.

"If the combinations can get firing at the back end of this year, it’ll be good going into pre-season and then into next year."

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