The Dragons head to Townsville refreshed after a bye but will need to be at their absolute best to topple the high-flying Cowboys.
Sitting third on the ladder with a differential of +160, Todd Payten's men have set themselves up perfectly for the demanding State of Origin period, which saw them go in against the Titans without four of their stars but still win comfortably,
A win for the Dragons would serve notice they deserve to be mentioned in the 'contenders' conversation and put a spring in their step ahead of two home games at WIN Stadium against the Rabbitohs and Raiders.
The Cowboys have already had more victories than their entire 2021 season and will have this one pencilled in for a 10th win of the year, all but ensuring they'll return to the finals for the first time since 2017.
Sportsbet Betting preview: Cowboys v Dragons
Cowboys: Todd Payten has decided to rest Maroons reps Reuben Cotter and Jeremiah Nanai but Val Holmes will play. Tom Dearden returns at five-eighth after missing Round 13 on Origin squad duty so Ben Hampton drops out. Holmes was named on the wing but he and centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow may swap positions.
Dragons: Tariq Sims is out and is replaced on the edge by Josh McGuire, while Ben Hunt is set to play less than 48 hours after his Origin performance for the Maroons. Jaydn Su'A comes onto the interchange bench in place of Jayden Sullivan. Jonathon Reuben, who scored 107 tries in 106 Queensland Cup appearances, will make his debut on the wing at the age of 28.
Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott DrinkwaterFullback for Dragons is number 1 Cody Ramsey
Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray TaulagiWinger for Dragons is number 5 Tautau Moga
Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Hamiso Tabuai-FidowCentre for Dragons is number 3 Moses Suli
Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta HikuCentre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
Winger for Cowboys is number 23 Valentine HolmesWinger for Dragons is number 20 Jonathon Reuben
Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 19 Tom DeardenFive-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Talatau Amone
Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLeanProp for Dragons is number 8 Francis Molo
Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece RobsonHooker for Dragons is number 9 Moses Mbye
Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Coen HessProp for Dragons is number 10 Blake Lawrie
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Tom Gilbert2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Jack Bird
2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Heilum Luki2nd Row for Dragons is number 18 Josh McGuire
Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason TaumaloloLock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin
Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake GranvilleInterchange for Dragons is number 14 Andrew McCullough
Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Connelly LemueluInterchange for Dragons is number 15 Aaron Woods
Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Jamayne Taunoa-BrownInterchange for Dragons is number 16 Michael Molo
Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin NeameInterchange for Dragons is number 19 Jaydn Su'A
Replacement for Cowboys is number 2 Brendan ElliotReplacement for Dragons is number 17 Jayden Sullivan
- Referee: Todd Smith
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
- Senior Review Official: Chris Butler
Val Holmes v Zac Lomax: Two explosive attacking centres capable of turning the game in an instant. Holmes has been dynamic on the Cowboys' left side with 42 tackle breaks, six line breaks and four tries in 2022 while Lomax also four tries to go with 33 tackle breaks and five line breaks. Both possess slick passing skills and have laid on tries for outside men Murray Taulagi and Mikaele Ravalawa. Given any room to move they will make the opposition pay with their speed and stepping ability.
Ben Hunt leads the NRL in line engagements with 125, always probing and keeping middle forwards honest with his quick feet and eye for a gap. Wests Tigers halfback Jackson Hastings sits second with 102 line engagements from just nine games and the leading Cowboy is Chad Townsend with 77.
Match: Cowboys v Dragons
Round 14 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville