North Queensland are determined to write themselves into the history books and not waste their shot at World Club Challenge glory this weekend.
The Cowboys created their own piece of history on Friday, by becoming the first team to name the same 17 which won the grand final the previous season for the WCC clash against Leeds at Headingley Stadium on Sunday (Monday 0600 AEDT).
Coach Paul Green is taking no chances in the annual clash to decide the best rugby league team on the planet, sticking with the same group that secured the Cowboys’ maiden premiership with a thrilling 17-16 win over Brisbane.
Co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott will lead the star-studded lineup, with Green revealing how important this fixture was to the playing group.
“It would be a huge honour for us (to win the WCC),” Green said on Friday in Leeds.
“At our club we won our first premiership last year which was a massive moment in the club’s history, not just for the football club but for the region as well.
“To get a shot at this game you’ve got to win a premiership back home which is really tough to do.
“The fact we’ve got this opportunity we’re really conscious of making sure we don’t waste that opportunity.
“We’ll be making sure we’re playing our hardest on the weekend because it will be something the club will be very proud of and it will go down in our history if we’re able to get the job done on Sunday.”
They come up against an injury-hit Leeds outfit reeling from a heavy defeat at the hands of Widnes last weekend.
The Rhinos will also enter the clash without influential trio Tom Briscoe, Carl Ablett and Ashton Golding, who all suffered ankle injuries against Widnes and join captain Danny McGuire, backrower Stevie Ward and ex-Gold Coast hooker Beau Falloon in the injury ward.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott concedes his team are rank outsiders but argues they’ve overcome adversity to triumph in the past.
“Because of the adversity we’ve got at the moment it is a challenge, but we’re not climbing Mt Everest,” he said.
“It’s just a game of rugby league and we’ve got to get over the top of a very good team.
“We’ve done these things in the past but we concede it is a challenge.”
Keith Galloway and Adam Cuthbertson, two of five ex-NRL players in the Leeds team, have been named in the front-row.
Cowboys: Lachlan Coote, Kyle Feldt, Justin O’Neill, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Michael Morgan, Johnathan Thurston (capt), Matthew Scott (capt), Jake Granville, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Ethan Lowe, Jason Taumalolo. Res: Rory Kostjasyn, John Asiata, Scott Bolton, Ben Hannant.
Leeds: Zak Hardaker, Ash Handley, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Liam Sutcliffe, Jordan Lilley, Keith Galloway, Rob Burrow, Adam Cuthbertson, Brett Ferres, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton. Res: Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Josh Walters, Anthony Mullally.