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North Queensland face a daunting assignment getting their season back on track when they host a Sydney Roosters side bent on atoning for a heart-breaking golden-point loss to the Storm.

The Cowboys snapped a three-game losing streak with their 32-20 win over the in-form Knights in round seven but crashed back to earth in a 42-4 flogging at the hands of Parramatta.

The Roosters come off a disappointing loss of a different kind, letting a 22-12 lead slip in the final nine minutes then seeing Ryan Papenhuyzen level scores with a booming field goal as the clock ran out before a penalty goal snatched away the two points in extra time.

The defending back-to-back premiers are also grappling with an injury crisis, a spate of HIAs and a serious syndesmosis injury to Daniel Tupou adding to an already crowded casualty ward.

The Rundown

Team news

Cowboys: Coach Paul Green has made changes to his backline, recalling Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow at fullback, moving Val Holmes to wing, recalling Connelly Lemuelu at centre with Justin O'Neill injured and Tom Opacic dropping out.

Corey Jensen and Jake Granville dropped out of the squad on game day after Murray Taulagi and Reuben Cotter were the two players to drop out 24 hours before the match. The Cowboys have averaged 26 points per game at QCB Stadium.

Roosters: Brett Morris was a late withdrawal after suffering a groin injury in the warm-up, with Matt Ikuvalu to replace him. Winger Daniel Tupou (ankle) and skipper Boyd Cordner (rested - head knock) are out. Ryan Hall starts on the wing and Mitch Aubusson in the back row with Lachlan Lam joining the bench. Daniel Fifita was trimmed from the reserves list an hour before kick-off and Drew Hutchison and Freddy Lussick were omitted on Wednesday night. Brett and Josh Morris have scored a combined 10 tries in their past five games.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
    Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
    Winger for Roosters is number 2 Ryan Hall
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Connelly Lemuelu
    Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh Morris
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Esan Marsters
    Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Valentine Holmes
    Winger for Roosters is number 21 Matt Ikuvalu
  • Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
    Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
  • Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford
    Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Kyle Flanagan

Forwards

  • Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
    Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
  • Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
    Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Jake Friend
  • Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Francis Molo
    Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
    2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess
    2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson
  • Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Roosters is number 13 Nat Butcher

Interchange

  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Ben Hampton
    Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Lachlan Lam
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Tom Gilbert
    Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Sitili Tupouniua
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Peter Hola
    Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Poasa Faamausili
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Gavin Cooper
    Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Lindsay Collins

Key match-up

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow v James Tedesco. As far as measuring sticks go, Tabuai-Fidow can't ask for a bigger challenge in just the fourth match of his NRL career. He isn't expected to outplay the game's No.1 fullback but has already shown enough to suggest the Roosters will need to keep an eye on him throughout the match.

Stat attack

North Queensland have produced respectable attacking numbers, scoring less than 20 only once before Parramatta put them to the sword, but they have failed to keep the opposition below 20 since round three which spells trouble with the premiers on the horizon. The Sydney Roosters top the point-scoring charts with more tries and goals, plus more line breaks, than any other team through eight rounds.