Cowboys turn to redhead to fire up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys turn to redhead to fire up

By Ben Galvin 11/06/2008 09:58:18 AM Comments (0)

Utility back Anthony Watts will be given his first start at fullback this year as North Queensland look to start turning around their horrid season with a win against Newcastle on Monday.

Once the most feared attacking outfit in the league - thanks to Matt Bowen and Johnathan Thurston - the entertainers have been a shadow of last season's semi-final team with injury, suspension and the resignation of head coach Graham Murray taking its toll.

One of the few shining lights this season has been the form of former Sharks halfback Watts.

The red-headed utility, who has already played at halfback and hooker for the club but largely off the bench, will take the injured Bowen's place in the No.1 jersey in a bid to spark the Cowboys' attack.

Cowboys coach Ian Millward said Watts had sealed the starting spot following an impressive performance coming off the bench at the back in last Saturday's 40-16 loss to the West Tigers.

"We are looking for someone to take a bit of the role that Matthew Bowen was doing and Watts has got some characteristics that can help charge us towards the tryline," Millward said.

"He did a really good job, he added a little bit of variation and a little bit of attacking force.

"He is a tough kid and on top of that a lot of fullbacks play the role of a second receiver as the form of a six any way. I think he brings a lot of attributes."

Ashley Graham, who has been largely filling the custodian's role since Bowen sustained a knee in round eight, has been moved to the centres.

The Cowboys, facing their seventh straight loss, welcome back Thurston to partner five-eighth Daniel Abraham following the loss of Travis Burns to suspension.

"Burns is a massive loss, a couple of irresponsible acts in regards to getting things wrong and the club will pay dearly for that," Millward said.

"I thought it was tough on Luke (O'Donnell) the week before both sentences (seven-week ban for two striking charges) while on Travis I think it was fair.

"Obviously we welcome back JT, he will be immense for us this week, just getting the halves settled."

Although having the Australian halfback return, Millward knows it will be a tough ask coming up against big improvers Newcastle who are also expected to have NSW stars Danny Buderus, Steve Simpson and Kurt Gidley available.

"They have got three outstanding players in Origin in Buderus, Simpson and Gidley - that is a massive threat," said Millward.

"They are playing very enterprising footy. They have got some great shape and movement off the ball and they have got some size."

The Cowboys also welcome back winger Mark Henry from concussion with Dayne Weston recalled to the bench.

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