North Queensland Cowboys coach Neil Henry.
North Queensland Cowboys coach Neil Henry. Ian Hitchcock / Getty Images

New faces bring new zest to lackluster Cowboys squad

COWBOYS coach Neil Henry is hoping his new-look team for Sunday's important clash with the Titans will provide the hunger and enthusiasm that could be the turning point for the floundering North Queenslanders.

Not only will the Cowboys be without State of Origin players Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Brent Tate and James Tamou, but veteran fullback Matt Bowen and experienced back-rower Gavin Cooper will also miss the Skilled Park match.

Bowen will have surgery tomorrow and will be sidelined for up to six weeks after tearing cartilage in his left knee last weekend, while Cooper's grade two medial ligament tear will result in him missing three matches.

New faces in the 19-man squad from the side stunningly beaten by Wests Tigers last week are Clint Greenshields, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Michael Morgan, Glenn Hall, Joel Riethmuller, Ricky Thorby, Jason Taumalolo, Ethan Lowe and Blake Leary.

"In the absence of all that experience we need a number of players to step up and I'm confident we will get that from these new members in the squad," said the coach.

"The guys getting their chance on Sunday have been in the background, playing in the Queensland Cup, and this is their opportunity to come in and hold their own in the NRL.

"I'm looking for that injection of hunger, and enthusiasm."

The Titans, without Origin forwards Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Ashley Harrison, have the luxury of recalling out-of-favour Queenslander Dave Taylor to their starting line-up, along with the experienced Luke Douglas and Luke O'Dwyer.

The third disrupted Queensland team, the Broncos, have also recalled some experience with Scott Prince, Denan Kemp and Mitchell Dodds named in a 19-man squad.

They face a near full-strength Warriors in Brisbane in Monday night football.

Prince is back at five-eighth after two weeks on the sideline with a hamstring injury, pushing Ben Hunt to the bench. Josh Hoffman has switched from wing to centre, and Kemp comes on to the wing.

In the only Friday night match, the Dragons have made two changes to the team beaten 19-nil by the Panthers last weekend.

Tyson Frizzell has been promoted from the bench to replace Trent Merrin and Matt Prior to the centres to cover for Brett Morris.

Nathan Merritt, again unlucky to be overlooked for the Blues, is at fullback to cover for Greg Inglis in the Rabbitohs line-up for their Saturday night clash with the Knights at ANZ Stadium.

Dave Tyrell, Nathan Peats and Ben Lowe are the new faces in a starting pack that also includes Sam Burgess, who is certain to miss the match through suspension.

Jeremy Smith returns for the Knights, with Peter Mata'utia in for Darius Boyd.