North Queensland will look to lessons from their rollercoaster 2015 playoffs campaign in attempting to rebound from their first-up finals loss to Melbourne.
The Cowboys will again be forced to take the hard road to the NRL grand final after losing 16-10 to the Storm in Saturday’s qualifying final.
However it is a familiar journey for the premiers.
After losing in week one of the playoffs last year to Brisbane, they won three straight games to claim their inaugural title.
Skipper Johnathan Thurston said the Cowboys could take confidence having done it before ahead of Friday’s semi-final against Brisbane in Townsville.
“The amount of ball we turned over against the Storm wasn’t great, but the way we defended our line we will take a lot out of that, we just have to execute better,” Thurston told AAP.
“We are disappointed about some of the tries that we let in and the way we played.
“But we were in this position last year, needing to win three games to get there and we got the job done.
“That starts on Friday night against the Broncos.”
The Cowboys lost in week one of the finals last year, before thumping Cronulla in Townsville and beating the Storm in Melbourne before claiming the grand final in extra time against Brisbane.
Last year’s epic decider between the Cowboys and the Broncos has served to enhance the rivalry between the Queensland sides, Maroons and Kangaroos playmaker Thurston said.
“It is always fun when you come up against the boys you play rep footy beside,” he said.
“There is a great amount of respect between the two clubs. I really enjoy those types of match-ups.
“They have a lot to play for with Cozza (Corey Parker) retiring. No doubt they will want to send him out the way he deserves.”
North Queensland boasted an equal NRL-best home record (alongside Cronulla) of 11-1 over the regular season. Brisbane were 6-6 away.
Brisbane beat North Queensland 21-20 in golden point in round four at Suncorp Stadium.
The Cowboys beat the Broncos 19-18 in Townsville in round 11.