Harder edge the key for Cowboys in 2019
NORTH Queensland great Johnathan Thurston says a "toughened up" forward pack will help the Cowboys bounce back to form this season.
Coach Paul Green has named Matt Scott and Jordan McLean in the front row and Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess on the edge ahead of their clash with St George in Townsville on Saturday night.
Tongan international Jason Taumalolo has also been named in his favoured No.13 jersey following a brief stint in the second row during the Cowboys' pre-season trial match in Mackay.
The loss of Scott and McLean from the Cowboys' forward pack last season saw North Queensland's post contact metres fall from a competition high 15,670m in 2017 to a 12th-ranked 12,040m last year.
Champion halfback and Channel 9 commentator Thurston said the "toughened up" pack, along with the addition of former Broncos player Josh McGuire, will help the club bounce back to form.
"Josh McGuire is a good addition to the club," Thurston said.
"It brings some toughness about them which they lacked with Matty Scott out injured over the last couple of years so it's going to be an exciting year.
"I think their season will be really good. I expect them to bounce back. We've got a very good forward pack that the coaching staff has assembled. Morgo's got a great pack there in front of him to lay a platform for him and get him on the front foot."
McGuire will make his Cowboys debut off the bench this weekend and will be joined by fellow forwards Mitch Dunn and Francis Molo on the interchange.
Former teammate and Townsville product Sam Thaiday said McGuire's gritty attitude would give the Cowboys squad a much-needed boost.
"Josh was a great addition to their pack," he said.
"He's got a bit of grub in him, a bit of banter which is good.
"If the Cowboys can get back to that consistent team they had in 2015, they'll be a huge threat throughout the season and into the finals."
The Cowboys' pack will come up against St George forwards James Graham, Tariq Sims and Tyson Frizell.