Cowboys keen on boosting chances
COWBOYS centre Justin O’Neill is confident North Queensland’s greatest weakness won’t be exposed again with the club’s maligned right side defence committed to tightening the screws for the rest of 2015.
As the Cowboys prepare to face Parramatta on Monday night, the team that shamelessly exploited North Queensland’s confused right side by running up a 30- point half- time lead seven weeks ago, O’Neill said it was a horror show teammates would never allow to happen again.
Conceding points is the biggest question mark still hovering over the Cowboys and their premiership credentials and O’Neill knows they need to improve considerably over the next seven weeks before the finals to be a major threat for the title.
“We definitely have to be better, we want to be better than that and want to be better defensively, especially leading into the back end of the season,” O’Neill said.
“I don’t think statistically we’re one of the higher teams in defence so we want to improve on that.”
According to Fox Sports Stats the Cowboys have conceded 25 tries through their right edge this season, equating to almost half of their total tries conceded of 56.
While they won’t have to contend with suspended Eels halfback Chris Sandow on Monday, O’Neill said his fellow right side defenders were determined to shut teams out in the run to September.
“It’s been a bit of a focus especially since the start of the year, we’ve definitely got a lot of improvement there on the right side,” O’Neill said.
“I think we were pretty solid ( against Manly), we will watch the game back and take how we can be better from this game. There is definitely heaps to work on each week and we will work on that.
“I’ve had a few little goals myself, one of them is just to play week- in week- out consistent football. But another one has been definitely the defence.
“Changing clubs is also not that easy at times, some clubs do things a lot different to other clubs. Getting into the new system and learning how they defend is new but I think we’re all starting to get the hang of it on our right side and we’ve done better.”
O’Neill was a member of Melbourne’s 2012 premiership team and said there was certainly a strong bond building within this Cowboys outfit to indicate they’ll give this year’s title a major shake.
“You can feel it among the boys, the bond is a big thing,” he said. “When the boys and everyone is on leading up to the game you can feel it, that helps bring a positive feeling and vibe among the boys and it can lift the team.
“One of the Storm’s biggest things was they seemed to finish the year with high statistics defensively so we know ours can be better and we want to try to match that.”
DETERMINED: Justin O'Neill says there is a strong bond building within the Cowboys and they want to shut teams out in the run to September.