Rookie Warriors halfback Tuimoala Lolohea is expecting North Queensland to throw plenty his way when he goes head-to-head with master playmaker Johnathan Thurston.
The Warriors and Cowboys meet in Auckland on Saturday night, when Lolohea will have his fourth match in a row in the No.7 jersey after Shaun Johnson’s season-ending ankle injury.
He is under no illusions about what will be in store against a Thurston-inspired Cowboys side.
“We know what kind of a player he is and they’re going to be coming at me a lot this week,” he said.
“I’m going to have to have a lot of communication skills, my mind has to be on and I just have to make my tackles.”
At just 20 and having made his NRL debut only late last year, Lolohea isn’t daunted at having to bark instructions to much more senior teammates.
“They like to see us young fellas talking at them and yelling at them,” he said.
“They’ve told us to keep going at it because it gives them energy.”
With three rounds left, the Warriors go into the match precariously placed.
Having climbed into the top four in mid-July, they have gone five matches without a win and plummeted down to 10th, leaving their play-off hopes hanging by a thread.
They have hard-working backrower Bodene Thompson making his return from an ankle injury.
However, giant winger Manu Vatuvei has been ruled out for the rest of the season because of upcoming shoulder surgery.
North Queensland are also looking to bounce back from defeat, having gone down to Cronulla and South Sydney back-to-back to sit third on the ladder.
They are missing durable backrower Gavin Cooper with an eye-socket injury, and have named youngster Coen Hess, who turned 19 last week, to make his debut off the bench.