Forgot the NRL top four. Forget back-to-back premierships. North Queensland’s form slump is so alarming star forward James Tamou fears for the Cowboys’ finals hopes.
The Cowboys head into Saturday’s home clash against the Warriors on the back of three consecutive defeats following a shock loss to the 15th-placed Sydney Roosters last weekend.
That defeat means the Cowboys are fifth on the ladder on 28 points, just four clear of the ninth-placed Warriors with three matches left in the home-and-away season.
Tamou, who is desperate to end his time at North Queensland before joining Penrith on a high note, admits the loss of form had become a concern following the Roosters defeat.
“It’s one of those things where you’re sitting there after the game, wondering what the heck is going on?” Tamou told AAP.
“At one point of the year there we were dominant … now it’s just one of those things where we really need to sort it out quickly because there’s not too many games left in the regular season.
“If we don’t turn it around quickly, we could miss finals altogether.
“That’s how scary it is.”
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Townsville has been a miserable venue for a Warriors team who are sure to be smarting following a heavy loss to South Sydney at home last weekend.
The New Zealand-based team have lost on nine of their past 10 trips to Townsville, with five of those defeats being by over 20 points.
The Cowboys are still without injured pair Jake Granville (hand) and Ben Hannant (knee) with coach Paul Green dropping Javid Bowen and John Asiata for Antonio Winterstein and Coen Hess.
The Warriors have included Bunty Afoa and James Gavet in an 18-man squad while young star Tui Lolohea is the only casualty from the 41-22 drubbing by the Rabbitohs.
COWBOYS v WARRIORS – Key match stats
* North Queensland will be hoping to avoid losing four straight matches for the first time in a season since round 12, 2013
* Cowboys’ captain Johnathan Thurston will become just ninth player in history to pass the 800-goal mark with three more goals
* Playmaker Shaun Johnson requires just nine points to surpass Stacey Jones (673 points) as the all-time leading point scorer for the Warriors.