North Queensland Cowboy Matt Bowen. (AAP IMAGE/ACTION PHOTOGRAPHICS, ROBB COX)
RUGBY LEAGUE: Resting players won’t be considered by North Queensland even if their finals fate is decided before Sunday’s NRL clash with Cronulla, Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen insists.
North Queensland can finish as high as third after the regular season finale but if both South Sydney (Friday) and Manly (Saturday) win, the Cowboys will run out the next day against the Sharks knowing they are locked into fifth.
Giving players a rest would be tempting for Cowboys coach Neil Henry who faces a welcome selection headache after naming a 20-strong squad for the Sharks featuring hooker James Segeyaro, back from a 12-week ankle injury.
But North Queensland won’t be travelling down that path this weekend according to Bowen.
“I don’t think so. No one has spoken about anything like that. We are all willing to play this weekend,” he said on Wednesday.
“No one would be keen for a rest before the finals.
“It’s always good to keep the same team on the paddock. You don’t want to be chopping and changing in key positions.”
Bowen said the Cowboys would not be taking anything for granted ahead of their second straight finals campaign and would adopt a “win at all costs” attitude against Cronulla even if already guaranteed fifth spot.
“Leading into the finals we have to go out there and get our combinations going again,” he said.
“We want to go down there, play well and get us in good stead for the semis.”
Bowen did not want to look too far ahead but did admit a potential finals clash with Brisbane in Townsville sounded enticing.
And the veteran No.1 dared to dream of a fairytale finish for retiring hooker – and roommate on away trips – Aaron Payne.
“He doesn’t get the accolades that the others get but hopefully we send him out a winner,” Bowen said.
“He’s not done with yet. Hopefully as roomies we have a few more late nights together.”