Cowboys out to inflict more hurt on Titans

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With his own team out to bounce back from last weekend's loss to Penrith, North Queensland coach Todd Payten is in no mood to show NRL strugglers Gold Coast any mercy.

The Cowboys take on a Titans team at CBUS Super Stadium on Thursday night that is still reeling from blowing a 20-point halftime lead in a 35-24 loss to Brisbane last weekend.

That defeat leaves the Titans floundering in 14th on the NRL ladder with a 3-9 record and already needing a remarkable turnaround in the back half of the season to push for a finals spot.

The Cowboys are flying high in third but were humbled 22-0 by the reigning premiers last weekend, a loss Payten is eager to wipe from the memory banks with a dominant display against the Titans.

"It's a big game for us," Payten said.

"We want to capitalise on all the hard work we've done so far.

"They're going to be desperate. They'll want to put in a good performance in front of their home crowd. We know what's coming at us.

"We just need to start as fast as they will start and we need to hang in there for as long as it takes. We'll get our opportunities and we just need to take them."

North Queensland will be without four key players due to Queensland State of Origin call-ups but get a massive boost with the return of wrecking ball forward Jason Taumalolo from a knee injury.

Gold Coast have lost captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui to Origin duties, with the back-rower's absence to be even keener due to David Fifita re-aggravating his knee injury in the defeat by the Broncos.

Moving on from the dispiriting nature of that loss is the biggest hurdle faced by Titans coach Justin Holbrook.

"Halfway through the comp now, three-and-nine, we've got to reverse that don't we?," Holbrook said.

"We've got to go nine-and-three, so that starts Thursday night.

"We've got to get them up from last week's loss but from that first half, to lead like that is some good signs.

"We know we have got it in us. We've just got to do it for 80 minutes."

AJ Brimson will captain the Titans in Fa'asuamaleaui's absence while Moeaki Fotuaika (ankle) returns for the hosts.

The Cowboys meanwhile have moved Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to the centres to take Origin player Valentine Holmes' place, with Brendan Elliot coming in on the wing and Ben Hampton the new five-eighth.

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