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Payten targets strike back to complete Cowboys roster

North Queensland coach Todd Payten is aiming to recruit an outside back with proven try-scoring ability to help achieve his ambition of returning the Cowboys to the finals next season.

Payten, who is awaiting the arrival of assistant coach Steve Georgallis from isolation in Queensland, has outlined the huge changes he will make to the way the Cowboys' training and play in his first season in charge of the team.

The rookie coach, who won widespread praise for the job he did with the Warriors under trying circumstances following the sacking of Stephen Kearney, believes the Cowboys have a roster capable of playing finals in 2021 but he wants to add more strike out wide.

"We are looking for an outstanding outside back – a try scorer, good defender and [someone who] breaks tackles," Payten said. "We have got a few names on a list but the thing that works against us the amount of money we have got to spend."

Payten: There will be a lot of change

Penrith winger Josh Mansour, former Canterbury and St George Illawarra centre Tim Lafai and James Roberts, who was recently released by South Sydney, are among the players who would fit that description and are available but they may be out of North Queensland's price range.

Even without another signing, Payten believes the Cowboys have a roster capable of making the top eight next year but he warned the players face an intense pre-season to get up to speed with the changes he wants to make.

Cowboys save their best till last

"We will have the full squad together for three weeks before Christmas and we'll have another four weeks before we trial. We are going to have to get some work done, we are going to change a lot of things with the way we play footy," Payten said.

"Our skill set, catch and pass, draw and pass, a lot of stuff we are doing in the tackle needs to improve and on the most part we just need to move faster when we carry the ball and when we move defensively.

"There will be a lot of change, it will be a reboot from a footy perspective. It is a reset, it is a whole new set of coaching staff, new calls and field set-up so it is completely new for the players and a completely new message from the staff."

With the introduction of the six-again rule just before the Telstra Premiership returned on May 28 after an enforced 10-week COVID-19 break, Payten said teams hadn't had an opportunity to adjust their playing style.

He said the absence of international football at the end of the NRL season would benefit the Cowboys as players would spend more time together at pre-season training.

"For where we are and where we need to get to we need all hands on deck in terms of our playing roster to be able to develop our own style and everyone be on the same page with that," Payten said.

"From my point of view I want to see us show some resilience, show some character, be willing to fight for the bloke next to them, be connected and enjoy each other's company. That will show in the way we play."