Scott Bolton. NRL; North Queensland Cowboys pre-season training at 1300 Smiles Stadium. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Scott Bolton. NRL; North Queensland Cowboys pre-season training at 1300 Smiles Stadium. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Bolton’s road to redemption ends with NRL return

Cowboys coach Paul Green is confident Scott Bolton's experience can make an impact after naming the veteran for Saturday following a five-match ban for common assault.

The long road to redemption appears to have come to an end for Bolton, with the 228-gamer set to make his return on the bench for North Queensland in his first appearance for the season.

Green was happy to welcome Bolton back into the 17 for the Cowboys' must-win clash with the Warriors, and said it was a "good" time for the club.

"(Bolton) has certainly been through the ringer personally, so it is good for everyone to have him back," Green said.

"I know the players appreciate having him around and I think for himself, he's glad to be back on the paddock."

Bolton had come under heavy fire from the NRL during the pre-season after he was found guilty of common assault in January following the incident in a Bondi bar in May last year.

No conviction was recorded, and Bolton was given a 12-month conditional release order.

However, as part of the NRL's crackdown on poor player behaviour in the pre-season, Bolton was handed his five-match ban on the eve of the season kick-off last month.

It has been a troublesome road for the 31-year-old Cowboys enforcer, but one that has brought his resilient character to the fore.

"It is really important for him (to focus on footy)," Green said.

"It has been a tough time for him and his family, all that is behind them and now he can get back to what he loves doing and that's playing footy."

While Bolton has lacked match fitness over the early part of the season, it has not dulled his enthusiasm on the training paddock.

The forward is understood to be in the same shape that saw him average more than 100 running metres over 22 games last season. While his coach had not worked out a strategy as to how many minutes he wanted from the forward, he said it would be a decision made on the day.

"He has played plenty of games and has got plenty of experience under his belt, so however long I get out of him," Green said.

"I know the signs when Boltsy needs a break, I have been coaching him for long enough. (He brings) a bit of experience, that is the main thing."

Bolton is not the only veteran to return for the Cowboys this weekend with former Kangaroos centre Justin O'Neill replacing the injured Nene Macdonald who sustained a dislocated fracture to his ankle.

O'Neill starred for the Blackhawks last weekend scoring two tries and setting one up as the Townsville side demolished reigning Queensland Cup premiers Redcliffe 36-6.

It was a timely display from the 28-year-old backline star with Macdonald expected to be out for up to six months after successful surgery at the weekend.

"It was good to see him play well back there, that is what you want to see happen," Green said.

"There is no doubt he can do it, he is a Test centre going back a couple of seasons. He just needs to find it for us, we need it too, with him and Bolts back in the side, both experienced guys and both played in some big games for us."

John Asiata has retained a starting role in the side after his efforts against the Storm, with explosive Maroons backrower Coen Hess left on the interchange bench. Cowboys recruit Kurt Baptiste has been retained on the bench with Mitch Dunn relegated to the reserves alongside Corey Jensen.

News Corp Australia

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