They may have missed out on a top four spot and a second chance in the NRL finals but North Queensland are supremely confident.
That’s the simple message from North Queensland’s Test prop James Tamou who feels his side can beat anyone in the NRL’s final series.
Penrith’s 22-6 win over the Warriors on Sunday night may have consigned the Cowboys to fifth place and no second chance in the playoffs but after a late season surge that saw the club win seven of its last eight matches, confidence is high in Townsville.
The Cowboys will now face Brisbane in an all-Queensland elimination final at 1300 Smiles Stadium on Saturday night.
Not that Tamou cares who they’re playing.
“I think with how good we are going at the moment any team that comes against us should definitely be worried,” he said.
“The Manly game (won 30-16 by the Cowboys), I’m not taking anything from that.
“I wish the Manly game was more of a finals game to be honest.
“I think we are one of the strongest sides going around.”
On paper, the fifth-placed Cowboys should enter the match as heavy favourites, the Broncos only sneaking into eighth after the Warriors lost.
Since the Cowboys first entered the competition in 1995 they’ve beaten their fellow Queenslanders just nine times in 38 meetings.
Tamou said the return of Sam Thaiday from suspension and the enthusiasm of the Broncos’ young brigade would be a test, but one the Cowboys would be up for.
“They have a red hot crack,” he said.
“They will be hyped to be coming to Townsville where there are a lot of Brisbane supporters.
“We’ve definitely got to be on our game and we will definitely be doing our homework.
“For the last seven weeks we’ve been speaking about finals football.
“Now that it is here it’s time to prove how well the talk is going and put it into practice.”
While the Broncos have dominated regular season match-ups between the clubs, the Cowboys have a perfect record in finals.
The clubs have met in the post-season twice before, with the Cowboys notching up a memorable 10-0 win in 2004 – their first ever win over the Broncos – and a 33-16 victory in 2012 to eliminate Brisbane.
The results have been split this season, with the Broncos winning 16-12 in round two in Brisbane and the Cowboys hitting back 27-14 in round nine in Townsville.