North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos collide in another mammoth derby showdown in Round 1 of the NRL on Friday night.
Cowboys vs Broncos kicks off at 8.05pm AEDT at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Channel 9 in Australia.
It doesn’t get much bigger than this for a Round 1 clash, with the Cowboys and Broncos resuming hostilities at North Queensland’s brand new stadium in Townsville.
These two teams have combined to put together some all-time classics in recent seasons and Friday night’s blockbuster promises to be no different.
Both sides will be determined to put disappointing 2019 campaigns behind them, with the Cowboys finishing in 24th and Broncos struggling into the finals only to fall 58-0 to Parramatta.
Brisbane and North Queensland only played once last season – in the opening round as well – and it was the Cowboys who emerged triumphant by a 17-11 scoreline.
Twelve of the last 13 games between these sides have been decided by a 1-12 margin, including three straight games between 2015-16 that were decided by one point.
With emotion high and an electric atmosphere anticipated for the opening of their new home ground, I think the Cowboys can edge this in another tight one.
Valentine Holmes returns to the NRL after trying his hand at NFL over in the USA, slotting into the fullback role for North Queensland.
Scott Drinkwater shifts to five-eighth as a result, partnering Michael Morgan in the halves. Josh McGuire is injured and also suspended from last season, while Esan Marsters debuts in the centres.
Alex Glenn has failed to overcome a hamstring injury, meaning the Broncos will be co-captained by Patrick Carrigan and Brodie Croft, who makes his Brisbane debut at halfback.
Jack Bird starts at fullback and Jamil Hopoate makes his NRL debut off the bench.
Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Ben Hampton 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Michael Morgan 8. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Reece Robson 15. Mitchell Dunn 16. Shane Wright 17. Francis Molo 18. Corey Jensen 19. Connelly Lemuelu 20. Tom Opacic 21. Jake Clifford
Broncos: 1. Jack Bird 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Darius Boyd 5. Jesse Arthars 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Patty Carrigan 14. Jamayne Isaako 15. Andrew McCullough 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Jamil Hopoate 18. Xavier Coates 19. Herbie Farnworth 20. Tom Dearden 21. Ethan Bullemor
North Queensland Cowboys – $1.80
Brisbane Broncos – $2.14
– Cowboys won their only clash in Round 1 last season 17-11
– 12 of the last 13 games between these sides have been decided by a 1-12 margin
– These teams have split their last four meetings at two wins apiece