Buoy­ant Knights good test for Cow­boys in first home game of sea­son

Townsville Bulletin - - Bizfi Nd - by Michael Thompson michael. thompson@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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

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