The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Cowboys look to churn on against plagued and desperate Tigers
North Queensland and the Wests Tigers do battle up north on Saturday evening in a match that involves two teams that couldn't have had more contrasting starts to the season. The Cowboys have picked up where it left on last year with consistent performances and exciting football pleasing the Townsville natives as they move to a 4-1 record to start the year.
The Tigers on the other-hand have had misery after misery as in-fighting, poor form and a coach change threatens to derail its 2017 season. This week alone it has appointed Ivan Cleary as the new coach only to have Mitchell Moises ask for a release which has since been turned down by the joint venture club.
There is a lot going on for the Tigers and if it could snag an upset win away from home against the high-flying Cowboys, it might just give a little bit of reprieve.
Last meeting: Round 22 2016 - Wests Tigers 26 Cowboys 14
The Tigers won the last meeting but have the lost the last 3 at 1300SMILES Stadium. It is an unhappy hinting ground for the Wests Tigers up north with just four wins in 15 trips.
Who to watch: The home side have found a real revelation on the wing in try scoring freak Gideon Gela-Mosby. Having played just two NRL games, he looks comfortable in his role on the wing and even found his way across the stripe in last week's win against South Sydney. Dominant in the NYC, Gela-Mosby is looking to do the same at senior level with his quickness, evasive skills and determination to find the line. With Thurston and Morgan calling the shots in the middle of the field, the Tigers could have their hands full when trying to defend this slippery customer on Saturday night.
The Tigers were off the pace last week, and even when they got into attacking positions looked void of ideas and flat.
Mitchell Moses has had his name in the new headlines for the wrong reasons this week and the best thing he can do to cure those ills is to put in a great performance for the Tigers on Saturday. For a long time there has been massive wraps on the black & gold number six, and it's time for the rubber to hit the road and for him to play to his full potential. He needs to attack the line with his running game and try and take control of the game in the middle of the field. With no Luke Brooks, Moses needs to take charge and lead his side to victory. His ball playing skills are there, it's time for Moses to use them and get the Tigers out of this slump.
My tip: it's hard to see anything apart from a Cowboys win. It will take a very special performance from the Tigers to get close to the Cowboys. That said, this is a danger game for the Cowboys and it will need to be at its best to prepare for this. Will be an absorbing game. Cowboys by 12.
14. Kalyn Ponga 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Patrick Kaufusi 9. Ben Hampton 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo 15. John Asiata 16. Coen Hess 17. Shaun Fensom 21. Blake Leary
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Jamal Idris 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Jack Littlejohn 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor 14. Tim Grant 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Jacob Liddle