North Queensland coach Paul Green is reaching for the aspirin as he prepares a game plan to defeat South Sydney.
The second-placed Cowboys are heavy favourites to overcome the Rabbitohs in Friday night’s NRL clash in Townsville.
But Green is taking nothing for granted, saying a Rabbitohs line-up boosted by the return of NSW State of Origin hopeful Adam Reynolds presents threats across the park.
Reynolds is back from a broken jaw and will line up against Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston in what could be effectively an Origin trial for the Souths’ halfback.
Green says his combination with five-eighth Luke Keary, as well as the inspiration of Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess, ensure the Cowboys know they’re in for a tough night.
“They’ve got a number of talented players in their team and Reynolds obviously coming back this week will make a huge difference,” Green said.
“It’ll kick them around the ground. It’s another threat in attack with Keary.
“Inglis at the back’s obviously a threat – Burgess has been in good form recently.
“There’s plenty of headaches for us but I’m sure, if we turn up ready to play, we’ll be able to handle them.”
Green has talked down reports suggesting Kane Linnett could make an earlier-than-expected return from a shoulder injury after missing last weekend’s win over Penrith.
The premiership-winning centre only completed light duties during training on Thursday, meaning young gun Javid Bowen was likely to retain his place.
The Cowboys have won 12 of their past 14 matches at home but their last defeat in Townsville was a 31-18 reverse to the Bunnies in round 23 last year.
“Last year, they did a number on us up here so they know what to expect when they come here and we’re expecting a pretty tough game,” Green said.
KEY MATCH STATS:
* The Cowboys are looking to become just the second team in history to hold three teams to nil in three consecutive matches at a venue
* Johnathan Thurston is nine points shy of scoring 1000 at 1300 Smiles Stadium. Only one other player Andrew Johns has scored more than 1000 points at a single venue
* Souths fullback Greg Inglis has scored 15 tries in 17 games against the Cowboys, the most against the club by one player
(Source: Fox Sports Stats)