Reeling from back-to-back losses, North Queensland playmaker Michael Morgan admits the wounded Cowboys will be out to prove they have not peaked too early this season in Saturday’s NRL away clash with the Warriors.
Once considered premiership fancies, North Queensland’s bubble appears to have burst after slipping out of the top two for the first time since round 12.
The Cowboys’ chances of nabbing their first minor premiership hit a snag when they were downed 31-18 by South Sydney at home last round – their second straight loss.
Morgan insisted their best football was still ahead of them but admitted it was up to the embattled side to prove it, starting with the Warriors this weekend.
“Not once through the season have we been happy with how we are going, not only week to week, but in 80 minutes,” he said.
“We definitely know we haven’t played our best footy too early.
“But it’s up to us to prove that, I suppose.”
Morgan believed the Cowboys were still in a winning head space.
“We are alright. We know where we need to improve and we’ve got some smart coaches here,” he said.
“We’ve probably played worse than last weekend and won games this season – when that happens, it blocks out what we have been doing wrong.
“We are not far off. Last week was a step in the right direction.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green also backed his team’s mental state, saying it was their forward pack that needed to lift after last round’s effort.
“I don’t think we were flat. I think we were against a very good pack,” he said of last round’s body language.
“They are the premiers. They are probably the benchmark in terms of packs and they were on last week.
“A big Warriors side is another challenge for our pack.
“I would like to see some improvement from last week.”
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote agreed with his coach on where their team needed to lift if they were to secure their first win in Auckland since 2009.
“They have probably got a roll up through the middle of the field,” he said of their rivals the past fortnight.
“So I think the forwards are really going to have to lift this week, get us going forward for the outside backs to finish it off.”
The Cowboys’ pack will feature 19-year-old debutant Coen Hess who will replace back-rower Gavin Cooper (eye).