Here is all you need to know about the North Queensland Cowboys' 2020 Telstra Premiership draw.
Teams they play twice
Broncos, Bulldogs, Eels, Knights, Storm, Roosters, Titans, Sharks, Warriors.
Teams they play once
Rabbitohs, Dragons, Sea Eagles, Raiders, Panthers, Tigers.
Thursday - 5, Friday - 7, Saturday - 11, Sunday - 1.
1 (Round 21).
Just two games at home in the first five weeks, which is generally the club's preference due to the late summer rainy season. That run includes both their games against fierce rivals Brisbane plus winnable contests against the Bulldogs, Eels and Knights, so there's a chance to start well.
Five key match-ups
Broncos (Round 1, North Queensland Stadium; Round 5, Suncorp Stadium): One of the NRL's most hotly contested rivalries, Broncos v Cowboys always seems to toss up thrillers regardless of where the two teams sit on the ladder. This is the regular-season clash the Cowboys most want to win and it will burn having lost twice in 2019 – including an absolute heartbreaker in Townsville in round 21. They get a chance to make amends early, hosting their rivals in the first game at the new stadium in round one with a rematch hot on the heels in round five.
Bulldogs (Round 2, ANZ Stadium; Round 7, North Queensland Stadium): It's rare enough the Cowboys even get to play on Anzac Day but it's been 20 years since Townsville got to host a game on April 25 and for a town with such an integral defence force presence it's a great chance for locals to honour and celebrate the country's serving men and women. The Cowboys shared the spoils one apiece with Canterbury last year and for two clubs hoping to return to finals footy in 2020, this pair of early-season clashes represent a huge opportunity.
Storm (Round 6, North Queensland Stadium; Round 21, AAMI Park): The Cowboys have a habit of playing well against the Storm without quite getting the chocolates. Runaway minor premiers Melbourne won their two games against the Cowboys last year by six and eight points to extend their winning run to 10 games over four years despite some very tight games. Melbourne's 2017 grand final win was the biggest margin of the 10 games. The Cowboys get to host this one in round six with a trip to Melbourne late in the year.
Roosters (Round 8, SCG; Round 13, North Queensland Stadium): Trivia time. Which was the only NRL club not to lose to premiers the Roosters in 2019? You've probably already correctly guessed North Queensland, who eked out an upset 15-12 win in Gosford in their only meeting. North Queensland face the NRL's toughest road trip in round eight and host the return bout five rounds later.
Sharks (Round 10, Pointsbet Stadium; Round 23, North Queensland Stadium): The past five or so seasons has seen some very spicy clashes, including one of these clubs ending the other's season through the finals in their respective 2015 and 2016 premiership wins and again in 2017 in the Cowboys' run to the grand final. Cronulla downed Paul Green's men twice in 2019, including a 42-16 shellacking in Townsville in round three that was one of their worst losses of the year.
It's the second block of games where things start to look tricky for the Cowboys. From round six they face the Storm once, Roosters twice as well as the Sharks, Eels and Rabbitohs in an eight-game stretch that includes just two games against 2019 bottom-eight sides (Canterbury and Gold Coast).
And another thing
For a team that perennially has one of the biggest travel burdens in the competition, things don't look too bad on that front for Paul Green's men in 2020. They face consecutive games outside Queensland just once all season (when they travel to Melbourne and Penrith in round 21-22) and don't leave Queensland between rounds 4-12.