Buoyant Knights good test for Cowboys in first home game of season
NO QUARTER will be afforded the North Queensland Cowboys in their first home match of the year at Dairy Farmers Stadium tonight.
The Newcastle Knights flew into Townsville yesterday on the back of a 42-8 hiding of the Penrith Panthers last week, showcasing the fact chivalry is dead among these new-look Knights.
‘‘ We struggled last year with putting teams away, the old Knights team would’ve let them ( Penrith) back in but we kept the foot to the throat and kept putting the points on,’’ Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen said.
‘‘ We’re a different team this year and we know that, we’ve got plenty of confidence going into this game.’’
‘‘ I suppose on the day it’s whoever wants it.’’
Mullen has tasted success at Dairy Farmers Stadium before and sees no reason why they won’t grab another victory in Townsville tonight.
‘‘ We’ve had pretty good success there in the last few years, I’ve won here a couple of times but they love their footy up here,’’ Mullen said.
‘‘ Just like Newcastle the Cowboys are a one-team town and they’ve got a strong support base which always helps, it’ll be tough but we know we’re capable of getting the win.’’
F o r m e r N e w S o u t h W a l e s playmaker Mullen will put his talents to the test against Queensland counterpart Johnathan Thurston, and it’s an individual duel Mullen will relish.
‘‘ Every game he ( Thurston) plays he’s in good form, I like to test myself against players like that and it’d be good to get one over him,’’ Mullen said.
‘‘ It’s not going to be easy but I’ll do my best.’’
Mullen also said the Knights would make full use of arguably the most in-form winger in the NRL.
‘‘ Akulia Uate always has a good game, he’s a great attacking weapon for us so we’ll try and use him as much as possible,’’ Mullen said.
But the Cowboys have a great opportunity of edging out the firing Knights, who are without the services of injured skipper Kurt Gidley and his fellow casualties Neville Costigan and Isaac De Gois.
Not that Cowboys coach Neil Henry danced up and down Dairy Farmers Stadium on hearing of Gidley’s late withdrawal this week.
‘‘ Even though they’ve lost a couple of players in Gidley, De Gois and Costigan they’re very strong, and it’s that time of year where most clubs have most players on deck,’’ Henry said.
‘‘ No one really tipped them to win at Penrith but they did a pretty comprehensive job on them, they didn’t have to defend too much in that game but they had just over 60 per cent of possession.’’
Henry said there had been no changes to the Cowboys team despite a bout of viral conjunctivitis affecting some players.
‘‘ A couple of players have been reasonably affected by it and still are at the moment, it makes their eyes a bit light sensitive,’’ Henry said.
‘‘ It tends to be a daylight thing so playing at night should be better for them.’’
Prince William will not be attending tonight’s game, but Henry said a royal opportunity existed to lay a solid platform for the season.
‘‘ It gives us an opportunity to build a bit of momentum, we have four home games out of our first six,’’ Henry said.
CONFIDENT: Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen arrives in Townsville yesterday