MOMENT OF TRUTH
HAD fate taken a different path Cowboys prop Braden Uele could be making his debut for the Sydney Roosters, not against them.
But tonight’s clash is an ideal chance for the off- contract former Junior Kiwi to prove he deserves a new deal when he steps into the big time at Allianz Stadium.
The 22- year- old will replace Shaun Fensom on the bench after the Raiders recruit failed to overcome a rib cartilage injury suffered in last week’s win over the Warriors.
Uele, a 112kg wrecking ball, is the fourth player Cowboys coach Paul Green has handed an NRL debut to this year after fellow prop Corey Jensen, winger Gideon Gela- Mosby and half Kyle Laybutt.
Jensen has been rewarded for his strong form with a new two- year contract, and Uele now has a chance to prove his worth after a more consistent year with Queensland Cup side Mackay Cutters.
Uele played under- 20s at the Roosters under Green, learning from star props Jared Waerea- Hargreaves and Dylan Napa. He now has a chance to use those tips against his former mentors after injuries to Matt Scott and Pat Kaufusi drained the Cowboys’ front- row stocks.
“One of the challenges for him this year was to be consistent back in the Intrust Super Cup and I think he’s probably done that, he deserves his chance,” Green said.
“( When injuries strike) you’ve got no choice ( but to blood youngsters), they’ve got to make the most of it.
“The guys we have used who have debuted so far have done a great job for us, and helped put us in the position we’re in.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when you give a guy his debut, it’s a huge step in anyone’s career.”
The Cowboys have won their past four matches since Johnathan Thurston was ruled out for the year with a shoulder injury, but all have been against teams outside the top eight.
Although the second- placed Roosters will be without co- captains Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner, it’s a match which begins a gruelling month for the Cowboys.
After tonight’s clash they host ladder leaders Melbourne, travel to a resurgent Penrith before taking on defending premiers Cronulla at home.
Green said Fensom could have played at pinch, but didn’t want to risk him suffering further damage with September looming.
BIG BOPPER: Cowboys forward Braden Uele will make his debut for North Queensland against the Roosters in Sydney tonight.
Jared Waerea- Hargreaves ( Roosters)
Victor Radley ( Roosters)
Five- eighth: Luke Keary ( Roosters)