Cowboys v Roosters: Hess ruled out; Naiqama called up

Even the most ardent Cowboys fan couldn't have predicted the blistering display their team produced against Brisbane but it's exactly the sort of win that can kick start a season.

After scoring just one try in their season opener against the Bulldogs, North Queensland have piled on 10 in the next two games, including four to gun back-rower Jeremiah Nanai.

With their kicking game on song and their speed men combining well out wide, the Cowboys were far too slick for Brisbane and they'll need to be on song again if they're to down one of the benchmark sides of the past decade.

The Roosters will be smarting after their loss to the Rabbitohs and the likes of James Tedesco and Luke Keary will be out to make amends at a ground where they won convincingly 34-18 in round 18 last year.

The Rundown
Team news

Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo has been switched to prop an hour before kick-off with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown shifting to the bench in his return from a knee injury suffered in round one. Reuben Cotter comes into the starting side at lock.

Coen Hess succumbed to a shoulder injury sustained at Suncorp Stadium last weekend. Scans showed no structural damage and Hess was initially named but he dropped out of the 19-man squad named 24 hours before kick-off.

Roosters: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Drew Hutchison have come into the starting side an hour before kick-off with Lindsay Collins and Connor Watson reverting to the bench.

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama will make his NRL return on the wing after replacing Billy Smith in the team named 24 hours before the match. The only other change for the Roosters from last weekend's loss to South Sydney is the inclusion of Daniel Suluka-Fifita on the bench in place of Fletcher Baker. Coach Trent Robinson will miss the trip to Townsville after testing positive to COVID. Joseph Suaalii has not been named.

Key match-up
Tom Dearden v Sam Walker: The Cowboys No.6 enioyed a day out against the Broncos with three try assists, two tackle breaks, two line break assists and a try for good measure. The steady hand of Chad Townsend at halfback is giving Dearden the chance to be more expansive and take some chances and he came of age on Sunday with a five-star performance. Walker had 84 running metres and eight tackle breaks against the Rabbitohs as he looks to settle in to his season and keep the second-year blues at bay.

Stat attack
The Roosters have won their past three clashes against the Cowboys, piling on 106 points in the process and conceding just 50. 


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