AAP Rugby

Asiata’s rise in form boosts Cowboys

By AAP Newswire

North Queensland coach Paul Green is banking on a buoyant John Asiata to lead the side's response when they aim to level their NRL season record at home on Friday night.

The skilful forward has flourished since reverting to the halves at club level, where he will line up against the Wests Tigers.

The all-rounder is likely to find himself in a playmaking role for a star-studded Tonga in next weekend's blockbuster clash with New Zealand after being named in the side on Wednesday.

Asiata had played two Tests for Samoa but has followed Cowboys teammate Jason Taumalolo in recently committing to Tonga, where he also qualifies.

Green said the buzz around that game had been felt in Cowboys camp as they look to correct their record to 7-7 ahead of next week's bye.

"Any time a guy gets a call-up for rep duties it's a good boost for them," he said.

"And Tonga are a nation on the rise a bit; it'll be an exciting Test for him to play."

The Cowboys were 2-5 earlier this year, with Manly ending a three-game winning streak last weekend that has launched them back into a battle for the top eight.

The Tigers, themselves on a three-game losing streak, and Cowboys are two of five teams on 12 points either side of that finals mark.

The Tigers were kept scoreless by Canberra last weekend but can take plenty from the records of veteran playmakers Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah, who both boast better attacking numbers against the Cowboys than any other club.

Wary of the threat posed, Green said there was no shortage of drive after last weekend's near miss.

"It was one of (those) that got away for us," he said of the two-point loss to Manly.

"All of them are really keen to try and nail it Friday night.

"Yeah, 7-7, we would've taken that in the earlier part of the year (given their poor start) but you can't be thinking too far ahead."

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Cowboys have conceded 96 points in the 20-minute period after half-time - the most in the competition.

* North Queensland has lost four of its past six games in Townsville.

* Fourteen of the 16 games between these teams in Townsville have been decided by double digit margins.