Cowboys backs to duel for Origin spot

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North Queensland coach Todd Payten says it's a sign of the form his players are exuding as versatile backs Murray Taulagi and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow challenge each other for Queensland's vacant wing spot.

The pair were reserves in the Maroons' 16-10 victory over NSW on Wednesday and are primed to duel each other for the berth created by an injury to Melbourne's Xavier Coates.

Taulagi has shown rapid improvement since last season with his ball running and high-flying finishing one of the reasons behind the Cowboys' success in 2022.

He averages 138 running metres per game, has scored eight tries in 13 appearances and leads the NRL in intercepts with four.

Playing in the centres now, Tabuai-Fidow has scored four tries in his injury-affected season and averages just under 50 less running metres than his teammate.

But the 'Hammer' already has an Origin cap to his name, scoring on debut in Game 3 of last season's series.

"That's good for us as a club. We have two guys essentially having a shoot out over the next couple of weeks fighting out for that spot," Payten said on Thursday.

"Form will get them there and that means they're going to have a crack for us ... which is good."

The Cowboys return home on Friday night after splitting their last two away fixtures with a loss against Penrith before a comfortable win over Gold Coast.

Payten has named an unchanged side for their clash with St George Illawarra, but could shuffle-in his returning Origin players depending on their fitness.

"I had intentions of playing them - questioning myself at the moment. ...I know what they're going to say when we're talking today, it's probably more how they say it and then make some calls around that," he said.

For the Dragons, Ben Hunt has been named in their side after a stellar appearance for the Maroons, with NSW representative Tariq Sims also named in the forwards.

Coach Anthony Griffin said Friday's contest will be their biggest test of the season playing against the competition's in-form outfit.

"They're probably the form team of the competition at the moment, they've put five or six together and doing it very well so they're going to be very hard to beat," he said.

"We've had a couple of wins but this will be our biggest test," he said.

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