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North Queensland's attack has been branded predictable in recent years - which new coach Todd Payten is out to change - and a lack of second-phase play hasn't helped.

The Cowboys produced only 157 offloads last year (7.85 per game) - the equal-second fewest alongside South Sydney across 20 rounds.

St George Illawarra (156) came last in this area.

Offloads weren't a prerequisite for success - minor premiers Penrith only ranked 13th with 163.

But the other top-four teams - Parramatta, Melbourne and Sydney Roosters - respectively ranked first, fourth and fifth for offloads, perhaps suggesting there was merit to promoting the ball given the increased intensity, and in turn fatigue, caused by the six-again rule.

While the Eels were the benchmark with 276 offloads in the regular season (13.8 per game), the Warriors, who Payten coached in an interim capacity from round seven, ranked second with 214.

If Payten pushes second-phase play at the Cowboys the likes of centre Esan Marsters (25 offloads in 2020), prop Francis Molo (22), lock Jason Taumalolo (14) and second-rower Coen Hess (13) have shown their ability to get an arm free and pass.