Green calls on teetering, revamped Cowboys

Murray Wenzel

Having wielded the axe, North Queensland coach Paul Green is demanding his struggling NRL side deliver with their season on the line against the Warriors on Friday.

Green dropped Justin O'Neill, Antonio Winterstein and Lachlan Coote from his misfiring backline after an error-riddled 4-10 start to the season.

The poor results mean a finals berth is only likely if the Cowboys win at least nine of their last 10 matches.

History is stacked against a miracle though, given the Cowboys have failed to progress in any the last eight seasons they started this poorly.

But a defiant Green bristles at suggestions the club is simply playing for pride.

"Not playing for pride, playing to get the job done tomorrow night, it's as simple as that," he said on Thursday.

"Keep doing that every week and the finals part will look after itself ... we can't take our mind off exactly what's right in front of us."

Schoolboy errors have constantly scuppered the Cowboys' best efforts this season, but Green hopes he's shocked the blunders out of their system.

"I've changed the team, so that'll have an effect and we've done some work to try and be a bit cleaner in that area," he said.

"It's about actions tomorrow night."

The hosts have their work cut out against a visiting Warriors side that's mirroring the form that propelled them to the 2002 NRL decider.

Their 9-4 start, to sit fourth, is the Kiwi club's best since that breakthrough season.

A win this week would equal their best away start since that same year.

The Warriors' improvement this year comes after a club-worst 1-12 road record last season, when they were the competition's easybeats away from home.

Winger David Fusitua scored a hat-trick in his side's 34-14 defeat of Manly last week, leading the NRL with 15 tries this season.

"(They're dangerous) if you let them, they've certainly got some talent in there," Green said.

The coach confirmed prop Scott Bolton proved his fitness this week and will return from a rib complaint to pack down in the front row with Queensland hopeful Matt Scott.

STATS THAT MATTER

* North Queensland make the second-fewest offloads per game (6.4) and concede the third most at 10.4 per game, while the Warriors rank first in offloads per game (14.2) and concede the second fewest (8.9).

* The Cowboys concede 40.5 per cent (17 of 42) of their tries through the centre of the field, the highest percentage and number in the competition.

* Resurgent Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo is seeking to clock 200 or more metres in three straight matches for the third time in his career.