Cowboys tap Blackhawk Hughes
The Cowboys have thrown Townsville Blackhawks youngster Jahrome Hughes into the fire, naming the 21-year-old at five-eighth for Saturday's clash against the Dragons.
Hughes has been the class fullback of the Intrust Super Cup this year, boasting an impressive mixture of speed, tackle-breaking ability and football smarts which also make him one of the Intrust Super Cup's better playmakers.
His halves partner this week is the returning Ray Thompson, while Lachlan Coote will keep the fullback spot as he did during last year's Origin period.
Coach Paul Green put faith in the young Kiwi to do a job in his second NRL game, after debuting at Gold Coast in 2013.
"I think he's been one of the form payers of the Intrust Super Cup; that's a pretty good indication for me," Green said on Tuesday.
"He's as good a player as anyone else that we have as an option, so I'm actually excited to see what he can bring to the game.
"Things are happening around him. He puts himself in the game, which is what I want to see, and he's got a pretty good footy brain.
"He's got a knack of sniffing out an opportunity. He's been in that sort of form all year for the Blackhawks, so he should be full of confidence and I want him to bring that to us on Saturday night."
Hughes replaces Rory Kostjasyn as the Cowboys' fourth-option half, as Kostjasyn remains a bench utility.
Upon naming the side, Green put emphasis on consistency and integrating new players into the team after losing five men to State of Origin.
While Green is the only coach to lose both halves to Origin, he said that his task would vary little this week.
"I probably need to get a little more involved this week, probably just to make in particular the new guys into the squad comfortable, and make them feel like this is their team,” he said.
"How we play on Saturday night comes down to what they're going to do for us.
"But roles don't change [this week]. We've got good systems in place and a good routine in place.
"Where I had a few more of our leaders around that I could rely on doing different things, I might have to do a bit more in that area, but it's more about getting the team feeling comfortable with each other and coming up with a game plan that is easy enough for them to execute."
The Cowboys have named Ben Hannant and Scott Bolton as starting props, with John Asiata and Coen Hess are on the bench. Javid Bowen fills Justin O'Neill's spot, while Rory Kostjasyn (neck) will be ready for Saturday.