Long-suffering North Queensland fans are daring to dream and South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds can see why, declaring them no longer a one-man band.
After a series of heart-breaking NRL finals exits over the last three years, season 2015 is shaping as the Cowboys’ best chance in their 21-year history to finally lift the Provan-Summons Trophy.
In years gone past shutting down the Cowboys was a matter of quelling the influence of playmaker Johnathan Thurston.
But Reynolds says that teams have had to come up with a different blueprint for the Townsville side this year with five-eighth Michael Morgan and fullback Lachlan Coote growing in influence.
“(Thurston) has been fantastic but I think the players around him have allowed him to be that way,” Reynolds said of his opposite number ahead of their showdown at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Thursday.
“Michael Morgan is playing out of his skin and Lachie Coote is doing the same. Their forward pack is on a roll at the moment as well.
“They’re full of talent and ready to play this week.”
In good news for the Bunnies ahead of their top four showdown with the Cowboys, centre Dylan Walker has been cleared of major injury despite being troubled by a hamstring problem in their 28-8 loss to Manly on Friday.
Outside back Kirisome Auva’a is also available for selection after serving an NRL suspension for a domestic violence conviction and put his best foot forward with a two-try effort for North Sydney in the NSW Cup on Saturday.
For both sides, the round 23 clash is a chance to regain vital momentum at the business end of the season following disappointing losses on the weekend.
Because the fifth-placed Cronulla and sixth-placed Melbourne clash next Monday, a loss to the Cowboys would see the Rabbitohs fall out of the top four.
Hooker Issac Luke said the side had not been at their best in key games this year and needed to reverse that in Thursday’s high-stakes clash.
“I think there have been key games that we haven’t been able to win … Friday night was a massive clash but we got our pants pulled down,” Luke said.
“But we get an opportunity to go out there on Thursday.”