Webb must step up, says Cowboys coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Webb must step up, says Cowboys coach

By Laine Clark 05/05/2009 07:17:05 PM Comments (0)

If missing out on the Queensland Origin squad didn't send a message to out-of-sorts ex-Test enforcer Carl Webb, Cowboys coach Neil Henry spelt it out clearly on Tuesday - step up.

Henry said the next month could be season-defining for North Queensland - and he needed hardened campaigners like Webb to start leading the way for the hot-and-cold Cowboys.

After Webb was a notable omission from the 25-strong Maroons squad recently, Henry - who is also the Queensland assistant - offered plenty of hope for the backrower to still break back into Origin contention.

But after North Queensland (3-5 record; 11th place) took a "step backwards" in their last round loss at Parramatta, Henry wasn't so touchy feely.

He singled out Webb and high profile recruit Antonio Kaufusi - another big name omission from the Maroons squad - to start carrying their weight against the Dragons at Townsville on Saturday night.

Especially with backrower Luke O'Donnell backing up just 24 hours after City-Country duty.

O'Donnell was named in the starting side along with Webb and in-form forwards Shane Tronc and Matt Scott, who nudged Kaufusi to an eight-man bench.

"We are getting some good metres out of Troncy and Matty Scott at the moment," Henry said.

"But we probably need Carl and Antonio to step up and have the same impact.

"We've talked about having more of a physical presence in the middle of the field with our forwards.

"I think it is time we stepped up and did that."

Henry also singled out Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen who has shown only glimpses of his old brilliance since returning from radical knee surgery.

"I would like to see Matt take the line on more," he said.

"If we all play our roles we will get the result."

And results are exactly what Henry needs after a frustrating start to his Cowboys stint.

Henry said the next month would be crucial to their 2009 NRL finals hopes.

"This is a very important phase for us. We have two home games out of the next three followed by a bye - we are guaranteed two points but we would like to get eight," he said.

"We had a step backwards against Parramatta - we need to win at home."

He will wait nervously to see if Johnathan Thurston emerges unscathed from Friday night's Test at Brisbane as well as O'Donnell from City-Country duty.

He is also sweating on the fitness of Ben Harris (rib).

Meanwhile, Henry said he was disappointed that O'Donnell had missed out on the Test team - but believed the writing was on the wall.

"(Kangaroos coach) Tim Sheens made his feelings known, saying it would be very hard to change incumbent players," he said.

"You would have to play your way out of it more than in.

"He has shown a bit of faith there.

"It's different to picking a tour squad where I am sure Luke would have come into contention."

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