WARY COOTE

FULL­BACK SAYS TIME TO FO­CUS ON FI­NALS

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH liam. but­ter­worth@ news. com. au

HISTORY is on the North Queens­land Cowboys’ side in grab­bing a dream top- four fin­ish but full­back Lach­lan Coote says it’s no time to get car­ried away just yet.

HISTORY is on the North Queens­land Cowboys’ side in grab­bing a dream top- four fin­ish but full­back Lach­lan Coote says it is no time to get car­ried away just yet.

The sec­ond- placed Cowboys head back into train­ing to­mor­row af­ter a gen­er­ous week- long break and hold a strong chance of earn­ing just the sec­ond top- four fin­ish in the club’s 21- sea­son history.

No team placed in the toptwo at the end of the State of Ori­gin pe­riod in the last five years has gone on to miss out on the top four, a cru­cial po­si­tion given no team has ever won the grand fi­nal from out­side the four.

Of the 20 teams that earned a best- four reg­u­larsea­son fin­ish in that same time, 15 were in that po­si­tion at the end of the dis­rup­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tive pe­riod.

The only time North Queens­land has fin­ished in the top four was in 2007, when the Cowboys won their last five games straight to fin­ish in third place be­fore be­ing knocked out at the pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal stage by Manly.

While the sta­tis­tics are be­hind them, in- form full­back Coote ( pic­tured) said it was im­por­tant the side did not lose any of the mo­men­tum from a strong mid­dle part of the sea­son.

“Ob­vi­ously, the crit­ics say we can’t win with­out Johnathan Thurston and we showed last week we can,” he said.

“We’re in a good po­si­tion now and with the wins we’ve got now, we can roll for­ward.

“Hope­fully, we can go into the back end of the sea­son with a few more wins.”

The Cowboys came through State of Ori­gin rel­a­tively un­af­fected by in­jury or sus­pen­sion con­cerns and the whole squad should be fresh af­ter an en­tire seven days off train­ing af­ter the bye week­end and long turn­around into Mon­day’s clash with Manly at Brook­vale Oval.

NSW prop James Tamou should be the only high- pro­file omis­sion from the squad when Cowboys coach Paul Green names his squad to­day.

De­spite North Queens­land still be­ing in a po­si­tion to claim the mi­nor premier­ship, Coote said they needed to stick to the de­fen­sive ef­fort shown against St Ge­orge.

“Our ‘ D’ was un­real ( against St Ge­orge) and although we let 12 points in, the last few weeks we let in way more points,” he said. “You don’t win comps with de­fence like that so we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

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