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Cowboys prop Corey Jensen backing himself

North Queensland Cowboys prop Corey Jensen will start for the side for the first time in more than two years tonight against Penrith Panthers, after four solid outings off the bench during the past month. 

The 26-year-old, who appeared for the Townsville Blackhawks 17 times last year and was part of the winning XXXX Queensland Residents side, said his aim was to be better every week he played. 

"I've got an opportunity now to start... I've only started twice in my career, so it's a pretty big step for me and it's against the top side this year, so that's another challenge... one I'm looking forward to," Jensen said. 

"I just need to make sure I get the areas I need to be good at correct. They've got a really big forward pack, so it's going to be a challenge for myself and the other forwards in the side. But it's a challenge that we'll be up for.

"It's a game we're looking forward to. They've won 13 straight now so it would be good to knock them off. We know if we go down and play our game, and to our potential, we've got the opportunity to do that. 

"For me, personally, I need to do my job right and to the best of my ability."

Corey Jensen. Photo: NRL Images
Corey Jensen. Photo: NRL Images

The Bowen Seagulls junior said he had grown in confidence during the back end of this year. 

"I'm just taking it week by week and trying to be better myself, be better for the team. I know that if I'm performing well, then it will help me stay in the side and that's the ultimate goal... to cement a spot in the 17," Jensen said. 

"I think I've fallen into the trap before where I was in the side and expecting it... I'm just looking to take it week by week at the moment."

Jensen said on the whole, this year had been challenging. 

"It has been a rollercoaster of a year, really," Jensen said. 

"Obviously with no Intrust Super Cup being on, it has been difficult. Not playing regular first grade, trying to stay motivated has been hard. But I'm not the only one in that boat, so it's been good to be back playing footy the last five weeks. It's been really nice. It's made things a lot easier for me. But it's still hard on those other boys who aren't playing."

Jensen said during the period he was not playing regular football, he was doing any extra work he could to stay fit and game ready; he said he focused primarily on improving his defence. 

"I've tried to work hard on that and do the extra stuff I need to do for that... I think has been showing in my game... I have been more consistent in that area," Jensen said. 

"I know that if I get that right, the rest of my game looks after itself."

Jensen added coach Josh Hannay had instilled him with the confidence he needed to persist. 

"He told me to back my ability and believe in myself... know if I was doing the hard work, it was going to pay off on the field," Jensen said. 

"Josh told me exactly what I needed to do, so I went away and did that. I just knew that if I worked on those things, when I got the opportunity, I would be ready to go and be confident in my ability. I was lucky enough to get that chance. Now I'm taking it game by game. 

"It was good having belief from Josh... knowing he believed in me, it gave me a bit of belief in myself. I did the work and I'm getting the reward for it at the moment."

Jensen, who is studying to become a primary school teacher - something that has helped keep him occupied and focused away from football - said he was impressed with all of his team mates who had been given a crack in the NRL this year.

"There's been a lot of guys who have been given an opportunity this year... obviously Tommy, I'm pretty close with Tommy Gilbert," Jensen said.

Tom Gilbert in action. Photo: NRL Images
Tom Gilbert in action. Photo: NRL Images

"I think he's a really professional guy for someone who is so young. He's come in and really taken his opportunity as well. The last three games, he has started, so that's a really big step for him. I'm pretty close to him and I think he's definitely deserved what he's got this year.

"Young guy, Benny Condon, is coming in to make his debut. He has worked extremely hard to get this opportunity. There hasn't been any footy played this year, so he hasn't been able to show what he's got on the field, but he's trained really well and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do in the NRL."

Jensen is one of 16 Cowboys who played in Queensland Rugby League statewide competitions -  Cup, Hastings Deering Colts and Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup - last year to have played for the Cowboys this year; Condon will make 17 tonight when he lines up against the Panthers. 

Jensen said his goal future-wise was just to play good football. 

"I'm trying to finish this year off well so I can build some consistency, then have a good pre-season and then rip in in 2021," Jensen said.

"We've got a new coach coming in next year so there will be a few changes obviously around the joint, but I'm just looking to knuckle down and cement a spot in the 17. And then, if I can do that, just take it week by week.

"If I'm not playing NRL, then I want to play consistently high footy at the Townsville Blackhawks. It's a club I'm familiar with and really enjoy playing for. Either way, I am looking to play good football regardless of where I'm playing."

Jensen signed a two-year contract extension with the Cowboys in September last year; it runs through the 2021 season. 

QRL 2019 to NRL 2020

Corey Jensen

  • 2019 - Jensen played 17 Intrust Super Cup games for the Townsville Blackhawks in 2019, scoring two tries, running an average of 155.53 metres per game; he also represented the XXXX Queensland Residents and played six games for the Cowboys.
  • 2020 - Jensen has played six NRL games for the Cowboys so far in 2020 and will, for the first time in two years, be part of the starting side in Round 19. 

Peter Hola

  • 2019 - Hola played 18 Intrust Super Cup games for Northern Pride in 2019, scoring four tries and tallying an average of 123.37 run metres per game. Hola also played in five games for the Cowboys. 
  • 2020 - Hola played in Round 1 of the 2020 Cup season before it was cancelled due to COVID-19 and has since played in four games for the Cowboys. 

Shane Wright

  • 2019 - Wright played 10 games for Mackay Cutters in 2019 and scored three tries. He also played in 14 games for the Cowboys and scored two tries. 
  • 2020 - The 24-year-old second rower played for the Cutters in Round 1 of the 2020 Cup competition and has appeared eight times for the Cowboys in 2020. 

Murray Taulagi

  • 2019 - Taulagi appeared eight times for the Townsville Blackhawks in 2019 and scored one try. The 21-year-old was also part of the Queensland Under 20 side and played six games for the Cowboys and scored two tries. 
  • 2020 - Taulagi has appeared two times for the Cowboys in 2020.

Francis Molo

  • 2019 - The 26-year-old played one Cup game for the Blackhawks in 2019; he also played in 24 games for the Cowboys and scored two tries. 
  • 2020 - Molo has appeared 18 times for the Cowboys this year and scored three tries. 
Francis Molo. Photo: NRL Images
Francis Molo. Photo: NRL Images

Ben Hampton

  • 2019 - Hampton played one Cup game for Northern Pride in 2019; he also played in eight NRL games for the Cowboys and scored two tries. 
  • 2020 - The 28-year-old utility back has played in 13 NRL games in 2020 and scored four tries.

Tom Gilbert

  • 2019 - The 20-year-old wrecking ball played 24 games for the Blackhawks in 2019 and scored five tries; he also played for the XXXX Queensland Residents and Queensland Under 20 side. Gilbert was named Cup Rookie of the Year and was named in the team of the year.
  • 2020 - Gilbert played for the Blackhawks in Round 1 of the Cup season before it was cancelled due to COVID-19. The young forward has since played 10 games for the Cowboys. 

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow

  • 2019 - Tabuai-Fidow played for the Blackhawks in the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup competition in 2019 and was named player of the year alongside Joshua James; he also played in the Queensland Under 18 side.
  • 2020 - The super talented fullback has appeared 12 times for the Cowboys in 2020 and scored four tries.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. Photo: NRL Images
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. Photo: NRL Images

Daejarn Asi

  • 2019 - Asi appeared three times for the Blackhawks in 2019 and scored one try. 
  • 2020 - Asi played for the Blackhawks in Round 1 of the Cup competition and scored one try during the game. He has since played four NRL games for the Cowboys and scored one try. 

Tom Opacic

  • 2019 - Opacic played four Cup games for the Blackhawks in 2019 and scored one try; he also played in 19 NRL games for the Cowboys and scored seven tries.
  • 2020 - The 26-year-old played for the Blackhawks in Round 1 of the Cup competition and has since played five NRL games for the Cowboys and scored two tries. 

Jake Clifford

  • 2019 - The 22-year-old halfback appeared six times for Northern Pride in 2019; he scored one try and kicked nine goals. He also played in 15 NRL games for the Cowboys and scored three tries and kicked 18 goals. 
  • 2020 - Clifford played for Pride in Round 1 of the Cup competition and scored one try and kicked one goal; he has since appeared 12 times for the Cowboys and scored two tries and kicked one goal. 

Emry Pere

  • 2019 - The 22-year-old prop played 22 Cup games for Mackay Cutters and scored four tries.
  • 2020 - Pere appeared for the Cutters in Round 1 of the Cup competition and has since appeared once for the Cowboys.

Reuben Cotter

  • 2019 - The 21-year-old hooker appeared 15 times for the Cutters in 2019 and scored nine tries; he also played in five games for the Cowboys.
  • 2020 - Cotter played for the Cutters in Round 1 of the Cup competition and scored two tries; he has since appeared in the NRL arena eight times for the Cowboys.
Reuben Cotter. Photo: NRL Images
Reuben Cotter. Photo: NRL Images

Mitch Dunn

  • 2019 - The 23-year-old second rower appeared four times for the Cutters and played in nine NRL games for the Cowboys. 
  • 2020 - Dunn has played in 15 NRL games for the Cowboys this year and scored one try. 

Scott Drinkwater

Justin O’Neill

  • 2019 - O'Neill appeared in three Cup games for the Blackhawks and scored two tries; he also appeared for the Cowboys eight times and scored eight tries. 
  • 2020 - The 29-year-old has appeared 16 times for the Cowboys this year and scored five tries.