The return of an off contract Benji Marshall has North Queensland on high alert ahead of Saturday night’s NRL clash with the Dragons in Townsville.
The Dragons’ attack is not exactly firing despite notching two straight wins.
The visitors have amassed the fewest points in the NRL in the first month, averaging just 10 a game.
But Cowboys coach Paul Green expects all that to change with Marshall back from a two week hamstring complaint.
While Green admitted on Friday that the evergreen Marshall was always a threat, he said he believed the Dragons playmaker would be out to produce something special with his NRL future still up in the air.
Marshall has made it clear he wants to play on until at least 2017 in what would be his 13th NRL season.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor has given him the first eight rounds to prove his worth.
Green did not have to be told Marshall would be out to make up for lost time against the Cowboys.
“What he uses as motivation, that’s up to him,” Green said when asked if he expected the veteran half to fire up.
“But normally when guys are in that (off contract) situation you see the best come out.
“That’s what I am expecting on Saturday night.”
Marshall’s return ensures the Dragons will boast their preferred spine for the first time this season, with fullback Josh Dugan expected to prove a perfect foil for the Kiwi half.
But Green said Marshall wouldn’t be the only one out to prove a point.
The Cowboys mentor said his reigning premiers were desperate to make amends after their last round golden point loss to Brisbane in the NRL grand final re-match.
“The boys are pretty frustrated given we had our chances to nail that game,” Green said.
“Hopefully that will give us a fire in the belly.”
The clash marks the first of three straight games in Queensland for St George Illawarra.
Javid Bowen – nephew of Cowboys great Matt Bowen – makes his NRL debut, replacing centre Kane Linnett (shoulder).
Prop James Tamou will become the 10th Cowboy to notch game No.150.
KEY STATS COWBOYS V DRAGONS
* The Cowboys have won four of the past five meetings against the Dragons and seven of the past nine at home
* North Queensland’s forwards are ranked first in the NRL for overall run metres (1581m)
* The Dragons are yet to score more than 16 points in 2016 and average 10 points, 1.5 tries and two line breaks per game – ranked last in all three categories
* The Dragons have lost five straight away matches.