NQ not one man team: Cowboys coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NQ not one man team: Cowboys coach

Laine Clark 10/06/2011 06:34:10 PM Comments (0)

According to North Queensland coach Neil Henry, the Cowboys have already proven they can win without talisman Johnathan Thurston.

But statistics don't lie.

Officially North Queensland have won just seven of 26 games missed by their co-captain.

However, North Queensland get their best chance to show they are not a one-man team against the high-flying Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night.

The issue clearly irks the Cowboys who are enjoying their best season since 2007 by moving to fourth spot, just behind Manly - thanks mainly to Thurston's heroics.

"I think we have already proven that we don't totally rely on him," Henry said on Friday.

"He's been in great form and contributed to a lot of our wins but we know this is about other players stepping up."

Stand-in captain Aaron Payne was more forthright ahead of the Manly clash which will also be without their other co-captain - battering ram Matt Scott - due to Origin duty.

"When we are without our rep players there is always something out there, whether it is media or whatever, saying we can't win," Payne said.

"As a player it motivates you to try and prove them wrong.'

If ever the Cowboys are going to discourage the nay sayers, it will be with a win against Manly.

The Sea Eagles will be without NSW call-ups Anthony Watmough and bolter Will Hopoate but they retain the nucleus of the team that has won seven of their last eight games - including star halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans.

And the game will be hosted at Brookvale Oval, where Manly have won all five of their games this year - the best NRL home record of 2011.

Not to mention Thurston's No.7 jersey will be taken up by a player - Michael Morgan - with just one NRL game to his name.

Yet the Cowboys are backing themselves.

They have won seven of their last eight games and are the last team to beat Manly - in a controversial 22-20 result in Townsville six weeks ago.

The Cowboys endured some nervous moments in the 74th minute of that clash when Manly claimed a try but video referee Paul Simpkins was consulted and found a knock-on by Jamie Lyon in the lead-up.

"We know Manly will be looking to square the ledger," Henry said of that clash.

"The press went overboard on a knock-on but we were comfortable for a large part of that game.

"However we know they are in fine form and we will go down there as underdogs.

"But Watmough has been good for them and they are also missing Hopoate so we will see how we go."

Henry urged Ashton Sims to step up in the absence of Scott - in his 150th game - as well as wily fullback Matt Bowen.

Payne believed North Queensland's miraculous 40-24 last round win over Canberra demonstrated their new-found never say die approach.

"There's a self belief in the team that no matter what the situation we get ourselves in, we can fight our way out of it," Payne said.

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