North Queensland must overcome a worrying AAMI Park hoodoo if they are to earn a berth in the NRL grand final.
While no team still active in the NRL has a winning record against the Storm at AAMI Park the Cowboys’ record is particularly bad.
Going into Saturday’s preliminary final against the Storm, Paul Green’s side have a two from 11 record playing in the Victorian capital.
The only teams with worse records at AAMI Park are South Sydney, St George Illawarra, Penrith and Wests Tigers.
Melbourne have also had the wood over the Townsville side since the Cowboys entered the NRL in 1995, winning 20 of 29 clashes.
And it seems to be playing on the minds of the Cowboys as they seek to claim the club’s first premiership.
“Melbourne in Melbourne is just a hard game in general,” Jason Taumalolo said.
“The travel, all the way from up here in North Queensland, and how cold it is down there… it’s not easy.”
Maybe it is the cold – Melbourne this time of year has a mean minimum temperature of 9 degrees, well below Townsville’s minimum (a balmy 20.7 degrees).
Or perhaps it’s the arduous travel schedule the team must endure just to get to Melbourne.
The Cowboys have been forced to catch two flights and travel over 2400kms for the grand final qualifier.
On Thursday they will spend five hours in the air and during a stopover in Brisbane – hardly an ideal preparation two days before one of the biggest games of the year.
“Melbourne’s known as a tough road trip away for any team,” Taumalolo said.
“It’ll be a hard game but we’re looking forward to turning up for the occasion.”