Thursday’s only NRL Round 20 match is between Nth Queensland Cowboys and Canterbury Bulldogs. The opening bounce is set to commence at 20:00 local time with the game to be played at 1300SMILES Stadium. The home team Nth Queensland Cowboys are the favourites for the match. View our preview and teams for the game between Nth Queensland Cowboys and Canterbury Bulldogs.
When: 20:00 | Thursday 21/07/2016
Where: 1300SMILES Stadium
Tip: Nth Queensland Cowboys at $1.42
Value Tip: TBA
Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Javid Bowen 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Matthew Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn 15. John Asiata 16. Scott Bolton 17. Ben Hannant.
Bulldogs: 1. William Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Curtis Rona 5. Sam Perrett 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer. Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Tony Williams 16. Tim Browne 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19. Danny Fualalo 20. Craig Garvey.
All of North Queensland’s State of Origin stars are back.
But the Cowboys say the rest of the team must stand up if they are to keep their NRL title defence hopes alive.
North Queensland are set to welcome all five of their Origin stars plus returning pivot Michael Morgan (knee) for Thursday night’s clash with the Bulldogs in Townsville.
The return of Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Gavin Cooper and Justin O’Neill and Blues prop James Tamou could not have been better timed for the Cowboys ahead of the top four NRL showdown.
However, centre Kane Linnett said it would not be up to their stars to inspire North Queensland in the run to the NRL finals.
“Greeny (North Queensland coach Paul Green) said to us last week that the boys who aren’t in Origin are a big part of the squad and it’s up to us to lift enthusiasm,” he said.
“Because we know those (Origin) guys will do their job, now it’s up to the rest of us.
“Hopefully we get on a good run into the finals.”
Hooker Jake Granville was a revelation in the Cowboys’ premiership year and hoped more unheralded North Queensland players stood tall during their title defence.
“It’s good to have those Origin guys back but I thought we had been preparing well without those guys,” Granville said.
“If the guys who aren’t in Origin can take it to the next level, the Origin guys will be a bonus.”
North Queensland (3rd; 11-6 record) remained in touch with the NRL leaders by going through the Origin period with a 3-3 tally.
“Everyone is excited for the run in (to finals),” Cowboys co-captain Scott said ahead of the showdown with the fourth-ranked Dogs.
“We definitely have a lot of improvement in us.
“We haven’t played our best footy over the past couple of months – it has been disjointed with Origin.
“We haven’t played up to our standards.
“It’s important the next seven games we improve and play our best footy.”
*Odds correct at time of posting. Subject to change