Errors, not the absence of Jason Taumalolo, was to blame for the Cowboys loss to the Sharks according to Gavin Cooper. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Errors, not the absence of Jason Taumalolo, was to blame for the Cowboys loss to the Sharks according to Gavin Cooper. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Cowboys are men with a mission

NORTH Queensland will be on a hit and run mission to Gosford on Friday.

On what will be a drawn-out day of travel for the Cowboys, the team will fly out of Townsville at 11am, land in Newcastle before getting an hour-long bus down to Central Coast Stadium.

They will spend a few hours at the stadium before taking on the Warriors. They will then get back on the bus and travel north before flying back to Townsville.

It will be a 15-hour day but the experienced Gavin Cooper said the mission remains the same.

"We are going down to do a job and get on the plane and come back home," he said.

"It will be challenging, but Sydney teams do have to fly up here through the season. It will be a challenge but there is no excuses from us."

Cooper said there will be plenty of admiration and respect for their opponents on Friday, but it does not change the Cowboys' desire to collect the two points.

Paul Green's men have an opportunity to entrench themselves in the NRL top eight, at which will be the quarter waypoint of the reduced season.

Cooper said the Cowboys would be wary of a scorned Warriors, who struggled to back up a spirited first up win following the COVID-19 break in a tough loss to Penrith last weekend.

Gavin Cooper of the Cowboys prepares to tackle Blayke Brailey of the Sharks (left) during the Round 4 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. (AAP Image/Cameron Laird)
Gavin Cooper of the Cowboys prepares to tackle Blayke Brailey of the Sharks (left) during the Round 4 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. (AAP Image/Cameron Laird)

The Warriors players have left their families behind in New Zealand to keep the NRL competition alive by basing themselves on the NSW Central Coast until border restrictions ease.

"What they have done, and people throw the word sacrifice around, what they have done to move away from their families it is a big commitment and massive commitment to keep the competition running," Cooper said.

"Hats do have to go off to them and their families back home. It is not ideal, but it is what it is and they are making the most of it.

"I think they had a lot of energy put into their first game back - that is why they played the way they did. They didn't back it up on the weekend, but I am sure there will be a bit of soul searching and video this week."

Cooper was a late inclusion to the starting side on his return from a calf strain last week, but will return to the bench with Coen Hess coming back into the starting side after an ankle problem. Mitchell Dunn has also recovered after failing a head injury assessment midway through the first half in the loss to the Sharks.

Cowboys wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo is also a chance of being a late inclusion for the Warriors clash, named on an extended bench, after missing last week's loss with bone bruising to his knee.

Gavin Cooper of the Cowboys is tackled during the round four NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks at QCB Stadium on June 06, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Gavin Cooper of the Cowboys is tackled during the round four NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks at QCB Stadium on June 06, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

While his inclusion will come as a great boost to the Cowboys, Cooper said the club still needed to tidy up their efforts to make the most of it.

"We just need to hold the ball, I think we completed 60 per cent on the weekend - even if (Taumalolo) is on the field on the weekend I know he would have made a big difference, but if we don't have the ball he can't run it," Cooper said.

"We let ourselves down right across the park, it wasn't about Jase not being there. We gave ourselves enough opportunities on the weekend, (even) with how poor we played."

The Cowboys and Warriors clash will be broadcast live on Fox League and streamed through Kayo on Friday at 6pm.



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