Cowboys' Hess realising potential: Hannant

·2-min read

Premiership-winning prop Ben Hannant once mentored Coen Hess and says the 26-year-old's career turnaround has been a key reason for North Queensland's NRL success this year.

Hess burst onto the NRL scene in 2015 as an 18-year-old weighing in at 112 kilos and standing at six foot two.

He made his State of Origin debut for Queensland two years later but had several lean years where he wasn't making the same impact he did in his early career.

Since his arrival, Cowboys coach Todd Payten has moved Hess from edge back-rower to the middle to play prop and ever since his career has blossomed.

Hess will come off the bench against Parramatta in Friday night's preliminary final in Townsville as a key cog in the Cowboys wheel.

"With Coen Hess we are now starting to see that he knows his size and realises how big and strong he is," Hannant said.

"He has that mentality where he looks at the opposition and says 'I am going to go through you'.

"Hess has bought into the game plan and is realising the potential we've always known he had.

"It is incredible the work Todd Payten has done. He is the coach of the year by a country mile to turn that club around in the space of two years. They've all bought in."

Hess told AAP he had learned plenty from Hannant about playing tough.

"It is nice to hear that from Cheesy (Hannant) because he was a big factor for me early on in my career and a bit of a mentor," Hess said.

"I try and go about my business the same way he did. Cheesy wasn't flash but you knew what you were going to get out of him every game.

"That is the sort of approach I've taken this season. Run hard. Tackle hard and do the little effort areas."

"I burst on the scene a bit and then people expected that from me. Then teams probably worked me out and I struggled a bit on the edge as well.

"Coming back into the middle I don't have to worry about halves burning me on the outside. It is straight up and down and I've got big boys running straight at me. It's not easier but it is more simplified."

The Cowboys' title charge has been based on doing all the little things well, as they will need to against the Eels.

"Their back five is tremendous so we will look to kick into corners, sprint down the field and limit them," Hess said.

"If we do that it won't bring their big boys into the game too much.

"Kick pressure is another one. Mitchell Moses has a tremendous long kicking game so we are going to have to be good at that."