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Drinkwater still wants to wear No.6 despite defensive issues

Scott Drinkwater has struggled to adapt to North Queensland's defensive system but would still prefer to be in the frontline at five-eighth rather than fullback.

After a month out with a knee injury, Drinkwater wore the No.1 in last Saturday's 31-30 loss to the Rabbitohs and set up two tries with kicks.

The 23-year-old, who played 10 games at fullback in 2019, likes being the custodian but reiterated he sees himself as a half.

"I think I like getting the ball earlier. I always played [five-eighth] growing up until probably two years ago," he said.

However, Drinkwater acknowledged his defence needs work. The Terrigal product has missed 31 tackles this year - the equal-second most of any Cowboy - with an average of 3.1 per game.

He evaluated his efforts after a torrid night against the Roosters in round nine where he played the last 27 minutes with an MCL problem, missing five tackles and making four handling errors.

"I had a shocker against the Roosters and I was a bit devastated for a couple of weeks," Drinkwater said.

Every try from round 14

"And with the injury it didn't help. I tried to get away from footy a little bit there. I was pretty gutted about my injury and the game.

"Coming back into training, I looked at more so my defence and the way structurally our defensive system is.

"I've still got a lot to learn though. It's a totally new system to what I defended in at Melbourne. It's something that I've always got to keep working and improving on and I want to do that.

"Last week it was alright because I was just at fullback, but it's been a little bit tough at the start. 

"Against the Roosters our left edge got carved up a bit, probably due to my movements not being the same as the other players."

Interim coach Josh Hannay believes Drinkwater can "make a great five-eighth" while Valentine Holmes, set to return from ankle surgery next week, is a long-term fullback.

Drinkwater met with Hannay on Tuesday to gauge his opinion on where he is best suited but said he's not worried about his place in the squad and would "let my footy do the talking".

That confidence was evident last week when he produced an early-tackle cross-field kick, from his own 20-metre line, that winger Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow gathered and dashed away for a stunning try.

"I'd like to say [it was] instinctive, but I'll give that one to [assistant coach] Aaron Payne," Drinkwater said.

Hammer time in Townsville

"The coaching staff talked about it and gave me the cue to give it a crack. Lucky I had the Hammer out on the wing."

Meanwhile, second-rower Coen Hess said the side are determined to respond on the road against Newcastle on Sunday after Hannay blasted some "bonehead" errors in the Rabbitohs defeat.

"We were probably hurting as much as he was," Hess said.

"The game was certainly there to be taken. As he said, it was probably a few individual things that it comes down to.

"That's probably been our season as a whole. We certainly can get ourselves into games but we're finding a pretty bad habit of losing them for ourselves."