Cowboys v Broncos: Feldt a late chance; Reynolds, Mam in halves

The state of Queensland may be feeling blue after representative week but the Cowboys and Broncos should restore some pride with one of the games of the round on Saturday night.

Not since 2016 will the local Queensland derby have so much hype in the lead-up with North Queensland sitting in third spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder and Brisbane nicely placed in fifth. 

With a host of players taking part in Origin II and across the rep weekend, both side's have also benefitted from the bye week and will be fresh ahead of the Queensland derby. 

The corresponding clash in round three belonged to the Cowboys in a six tries to two romp at Suncorp Stadium. 

Brisbane have responded since then, winning nine of their past 12 matches.

The Rundown
Team news
Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo played 67 minutes for Tonga against the Kiwis and will back up while Maroons trio Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi and Jeremiah Nanai have all been named. Mid-season recruit Luciano Leilua officially joined the Cowboys during the re round and will make his club debut in what will be his 100th NRL appearance. Back-rower Tom Gilbert is ready to return from an eye injury so Jamayne Taunoa-Brown reverts to the bench. Veteran winger Kyle Feldt is listed among the reserves as he closes in on a return from a knee injury and could come into the side on game day.

Broncos: A huge boost with captain Adam Reynolds returning from a rib injury while Blues prop Payne Haas has been named despite suffering an ankle injury in Origin. Patrick Carrigan and Kurt Capewell played over 60 minutes each in the Maroons' loss but have been named to back up along with Selwyn Cobbo, as have Kotoni Staggs (Tonga) and Keenan Palasia (Samoa). Ezra Mam will remain at five-eighth with Tyson Gamble dropping out of the reserves.

Key match-up
Tom Dearden v Ezra Mam: Both former teammates in the lower grades at the Broncos, former playmaker Dearden has taken his game to a whole new level alongside Chad Townsend in North Queensland. Dearden has nine try assists for the year to go with five tries of his own and five forced dropouts. It's his running game that's been pivotal for the Cowboys with the 21-year-old averaging at least 87 metres per game. Mam, who has three tries in four NRL games, has burst onto the scene since making his debut in round 11 and will be looking to make the five-eighth spot his own alongside Adam Reynolds for the remainder of the year.

Stat Attack
The Broncos (275) have more ineffective tackles than any other team in the competition while the Cowboys are ranked best in this area with just 182 after 15 rounds. While Brisbane's average per game hasn't changed too much on their recent seasons, North Queensland have gone from worst to best in this department to easily be the most improved team in 2022.

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