No more excuses for Cowboys pack
COWBOYS premiership player Jake Granville says North Queensland's 2019 pack might become the best he has played with, but they need to aim up from the start against the Dragons on Saturday night.
Compared to the 2015 Cowboys pack, which included Test prop James Tamou, this rotation includes internationals Jason Taumalolo, Matt Scott, Josh McGuire and Jordan McLean and Origin star Gavin Cooper, plus Scott Bolton to come back from suspension next month.
"On paper it looks that way but we haven't started playing yet and have to put it in practice in games,'' Granville said.
"I am pretty blessed to have such good players around. There are some big fellas in the middle and I'm sure they will generate some ruck speed for us.
"We are looking to hit the ground running, the Dragons are a tough opposition and we have to be at our best. We have to get our defence right first.''
Cowboys coach Paul Green said he was not inclined to play McGuire as a dummy-half, as he did during an injury emergency at the Broncos, and Granville said he was willing to play as many minutes as required.
Granville, starting his fifth season as the Cowboys dummy-half, is part of a new spine in his first campaign without the retired Johnathan Thurston.
Michael Morgan is the main playmaker, with Te Maire Martin at five-eighth, as they were during the 2017 finals surge in which North Queensland made the grand final with Thurston sidelined through injury.
Broncos recruit Jordan Kahu gets his debut for his second club at fullback.
"It's a bit different because JT's not there. Morgo is leading us around the park,'' Granville said.
"A key to that is communicating with each other. He's embraced it and he is controlling the team really well.
"It's a little bit of a new look but Te Maire and Morgo were in the halves in 2017 when Lachlan Coote was (fullback).''
Granville played at the Broncos in 2014 with McGuire, and also alongside Kahu when they were playing for Wynnum.
"I played a couple of games at the Broncos and I found he's (McGuire) a real competitor - he still is, you can see it at training,'' Granville said.
"He brings some good aggression and I can't wait to play in the same team with him. It feels like he's always been a part of the team. Like Jordan, he has plenty of experience.''