Winterstein debut for Cowboys in centres? - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Winterstein debut for Cowboys in centres?

Wayne Heming 07/04/2011 05:04:22 PM Comments (0)

Former Brisbane winger Antonio Winterstein could make his belated debut for North Queensland in the centres against the Gold Coast at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Friday night.

Speculation has raged all week about the make-up of the Cowboys back line for the Queensland derby.

There had been speculation Winterstein's return from a broken jaw, suffered in a trial game in Alice Springs, would be on the wing at the expense of Kalifa Fai Fai Loa.

But coach Neil Henry could opt to retain the hulking Kiwi winger whose defence has proved costly and play Winterstein in the centres.

If he prefers that scenario, Auckland-born Will Tupou could be the unlucky player who misses out.

Henry is a Fai Fai Loa fan and might be willing to give him one more chance despite the Titans' tendency to attack the left edge with good results.

Decisions on whether Winterstein and damaging forward Scott Bolton play will be left until Friday.

Cowboys forward Ashton Sims said it would be a harsh call on his younger brother Tariq to miss out if Bolton's calf comes up trumps.

"It would be a bit harsh for him but had Queensland not been so good the last six years I reckon he'd have got a start for the Maroons in Origin in the last couple of years," said Sims who like Winterstein left the Broncos last season.

Sims expects to see plenty of former Dragons teammate Luke Bailey, a player he credits with helping his career when he first entered grade as an 18 year-old in 2003.

"When I first came into top grade at St George there was Bull Bailey and Jason Ryles and I looked up to those guys as a young player," he said.

"There were blokes like me and Justin Poore and Benny Creagh coming through.

"I've always had the utmost respect for Bails, I always will.

"He's a stand up guy off the field but on the field he's a real leader and you know he will take their pack forward."

Titans skipper Scott Prince is expected to play after being a late scratching last week against Canberra but Sims says returning hooker Nathan Friend is a big bonus.

"It will be huge, he's a really good player," said Sims.

"Riley Brown will still come off the bench and bring some impact in that role but I think Nathan Friend is tried and tested, he's very durable and very smart.

"He's one guy we'll definitely look at during our video session.

While they've been boosted by the return of Friend and lock Ashley Harrison, they'll miss the impact of suspended five eighth Greg Bird and the creativity of veteran utility Preston Campbell.

They could struggle to match the strike threat of halfback Johnathan Thurston and fullback Matt Bowen who are well and truly back in business in 2011.

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