Hampton back with a vengeance
COWBOYS centre Ben Hampton says the disappointment of watching the first two rounds from the sidelines only made him more determined to force his way back into the NRL line-up.
Hampton will play his first game of the season for the Cowboys when they host the Sharks at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with coach Paul Green swinging the selection axe following last weekend's disappointing loss to the Broncos.
Green said Hampton had been close to earning a spot in the centres for round one only to be edged out by new recruit Tom Opacic and the man himself felt his mixed trial form had spoiled his hopes.
Hampton has had few chances to prove himself on the field since, playing just the one game at fullback for the Northern Pride, but he believed it was enough to cement his NRL recall.
"It is hard. You always want to be in the team and playing for the Cowboys," Hampton said.
"Sometimes it can really get you down, but I suppose you've got to try and take the positives out of it and look to improve and really work hard to get back into it.
"I didn't have the best trial, that's probably what hurt me the most. Just a few little areas I had to tidy up from that trial which I thought I did on the weekend playing for the Pride.
"It's been a pretty long pre-season and I haven't played that much footy to start the year off, but I'm pretty excited to get out there."
Hampton's NRL recall is part of a major shake-up to North Queensland's backline ahead of the Sharks clash, with Jordan Kahu also moving to the centres and Te Maire Martin lining up at fullback.
Green has said he wants more impact from his centres against Cronulla, particularly coming out of yardage.
Hampton was one of North Queensland's best last season when he played in the centres and the Mareeba product was confident he could reproduce that impressive form.
"I feel pretty confident there. That's where I did most of my training in the preseason so hopefully I can put everything I've learnt into play this weekend," Hampton said.
"It's a pretty tough position to defend in. A lot of stuff happens around them, teams attacking the tryline and stuff like that, so you've got to be pretty switched on there.
"That was definitely one of the areas I had to improve on so this weekend it'll be a big focus for me.
"Running's probably my biggest strength so I'll be sniffing around the ruck like I always do and trying to get a few quick runs in like I did last year."