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The Cowboys will be desperate to awaken from a nightmare 2020 season which has seen them reduced to also-ran status and contenders for the wooden spoon.

North Queensland have won just one of their past 10 games and arguably hit rock bottom when hammered 30-10 by Sunshine State rivals the Titans last weekend on the Gold Coast.

The Cowboys sit above only the Broncos and Bulldogs on the ladder, just two points ahead of last-placed Canterbury, and things don't get any easier from here with five of their final seven fixtures against top eight sides. 

South Sydney, in contrast, are clinging to a spot in the eight and after two successive wins will fancy their chances of banking the two points and keeping themselves in that conversation.

The Rundown

Team news

Cowboys: Scott Drinkwater returns from a knee injury at fullback. Prop John Asiata returns from a knee injury on the bench in place of Tom Gilbert.

The Cowboys have won only two games from seven at QCB Stadium.

Corey Jensen and Esan Marsters were cut from the reserves 24 hours before kick-off and Shane Wright and Jake Clifford were omitted an hour before kick-off.

Rabbitohs: Cameron Murray is set for a switch to the edge with Liam Knight starting at lock and Bayley Sironen moving to the bench. Murray is expected to revert back to the middle when Sironen comes onto the field. The Rabbitohs have won their past four games against the Cowboys.

Troy Dargan and Kurt Dillon were omitted 24 hours before kick-off and Jack Johns and Corey Allan made way on game day.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
    Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell Mitchell
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Tom Opacic
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Campbell Graham
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Dane Gagai
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Jaxson Paulo
  • Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Ben Hampton
    Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
  • Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Michael Morgan
    Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds

Forwards

  • Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Tevita Tatola
  • Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
    Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
  • Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Mitchell Dunn
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Jaydn Su'A
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 15 Liam Knight
  • Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray

Interchange

  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 12 Bayley Sironen
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 John Asiata
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Mark Nicholls
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Emry Pere
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Patrick Mago
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Keaon Koloamatangi

Key match-up

Michael Morgan v Adam Reynolds: The Cowboys veteran endured a torrid return from long-term injury against the Titans and will be eager to make amends. The halfback missed seven tackles and made three errors in a display coach Josh Hannay put down to "trying too hard".

With his Rabbitohs rival coming off an influential outing against Brisbane Morgan just has to be better. Reynolds scored a try, kicked six from seven and forced five line dropouts to pin the Broncos deep in their own territory while combining beautifully with Cody Walker to direct South Sydney's attack.

Stat Attack

Winger Alex Johnston reigns as the NRL's intercept king so North Queensland's playmakers will need to be cautious when throwing cutout balls on his side of the field.

Johnston has pounced on five errant passes so far this season, leading that category clearly ahead of a three-way tie for second (Scott Drinkwater, Suliasi Vunivalu and David Nofoaluma) on three intercepts.