Cowboys out to break Shark Park hoodoo
FORMER North Queensland star and Maroons winger Brent Tate says the result of Thursday night's clash between the Cowboys and Sharks is "incredibly important" for either team to have a shot at the finals.
Both teams sit just one win outside the top eight and require an almost unbeaten run home to claim a finals' berth.
The Sharks will be looking to break a five-game losing streak while the Cowboys are out to rectify their loss to South Sydney last weekend.
North Queensland enter hostile territory at Shark Park on Thursday night not having won a game at the ground since 2014, and 14 of the past 19 games played there.
Tate said the game was a chance for the Cowboys to really step up and use the hostility of the venue to their favour.
"It's a really important one for them tonight," Tate said.
"Obviously they beat the Roosters and last week against South Sydney was one they really let go. It was a real opportunity missed there.
"This week is a good opportunity for them because sometimes when you go down to Shark Park on a cold night, you get this real 'us versus them' mentality.
"It's bloody tough down there. It's always cold, it's always windy but again, you turn it into a positive with the 'us versus them' mentality."
Coach Paul Green said he was disappointed at last week's 30-18 loss to the Rabbitohs after leading by six points with 10 minutes to go.
He said he was looking for a bit more improvement from his players against Cronulla.
"We put ourselves in a winning position at the end there but failed to close the game out," Green said.
"Once they scored to level it up, we kind of ran out of puff a bit."
Tate, who played alongside club greats Johnathan Thurston, Matt Bowen and Matt Scott, said the current squad boasted plenty of quality to find a win against the Sharks.
"There's enough talent in the team to get the job done," he said.
"We've had a huge injury toll and they've done well with the injuries that they've had.
"They're going all right and they've shown in the past couple of weeks that there's still signs of fight.
"If you talk to each one of the players individually, there's no thought that they're not in it.
"Their thought process is that we're still alive, still kicking.
"They just need to start winning some footy games."
The Cowboys v Sharks clash kicks off the NRL's Beanie for Brain Cancer Round in support of the Mark Hughes Foundation.