FAR North rugby league fans can stop lamenting the Cowboys’ disappointing NRL grand final loss and look forward to seeing their 2018 tilt begin in Cairns next year.
North Queensland will meet Wests Tigers at Barlow Park on February 17 in a rare chance for supporters to get up close and personal with the squad, which will go into next season as one of the premiership favourites.
At less than three weeks out from the start of the NRL season, the match could well be Johnathan Thurston’s first official game back from a shoulder injury, while fellow co-captain Matt Scott will be eager for match fitness as he looks to a much-awaited return.
The only snag in JT’s involvement could be the potential testimonial match for the champion halfback and Storm skipper Cameron Smith, slated for Brisbane on February 21.
The Tigers are set to hold a training camp in the Far North in the week leading up to the match.
Action from the trial match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Gold Coast Titans, held at Barlow Park, Cairns in 2015.
Cairns and District Rugby League has invested $150,000 to secure the two teams for the preseason match, the first since 2015 when the Cowboys, including Thurston, beat the Titans 30-10.
CDRL secretary Pat Bailey said it was ideal timing to build momentum into the local season and take advantage of upgrades to Barlow Park for the Rugby League World Cup.
“I get excited every time, because what we’re trying to do is assist people in the area to see the Cowboys and this is our way we can offer people the opportunity to see them,” she said.
“The Tigers, they’re arriving early and they’ll have a camp here and we’ll try to organise some school visits and an open training session.”
Attempts to contact the Cowboys and Tigers were unsuccessful.
TRIAL MATCH DETAILS
North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers
February 17, 2018, 7.30pm
Barlow Park, Cairns
GA Adult $15 Family $35
GA Student/pensioner $5