Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will make his NRL debut for the North Queensland Cowboys. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will make his NRL debut for the North Queensland Cowboys. Picture: Alix Sweeney

HAMMER TIME: Teen sensation among Cowboys changes

HE WAS the name on everybody's lips after the Nines tournament, and now Cowboys fans will watch Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in action in the NRL for the first time.

The teenage flyer tantalised fans with his searing pace and try-scoring ingenuity during the pre-season tournament.

Now it is time for him to drop the 'hammer' on the Warriors.

North Queensland coach Paul Green announced the 18-year-old tearaway for an NRL debut when his side take on the New Zealand on Friday night.

It will be the second debut he has handed out in the past two weeks following Tom Gilbert's maiden appearance against Cronulla.

After all five of the Sharks tries last round came down the left flank, Tabuai-Fidow comes into the side at the expense of the versatile Ben Hampton.

Green said it was a tricky balancing act giving up-and-coming players a chance - too much inexperience on the field could hinder performance and the development of his young guns.

But with no second tier competition in 2020 the Cowboys mentor said they would have to rotate them in at some point, and giving the Cairns product a crack was just reward for doing everything asked of him.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow of the Cowboys runs in for a try during the semi finals of the NRL Nines 2020 tournament. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow of the Cowboys runs in for a try during the semi finals of the NRL Nines 2020 tournament. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

"He's one of those guys where he runs as fast as he has to, I played a lot of footy with David Peachey and he was similar," Green said.

"Peach would always stay a metre or two head of who was chasing him, sometimes you never know how quick those guys are because they're as quick as they have to be.

"Part of giving him a run in the Nines was to see how he'd go in that company, he's still developing.

"We would've liked him to have a run earlier, but he had a couple of injury concerns. Our left edge in particular didn't have a great night last week so it was a good opportunity to give him a run."

The selection axe has also fallen on veteran hooker Jake Granville, with Reece Robson stepping into the No. 9 jersey and Reuben Cotter coming off the bench.

The 31-year-old premiership winner has been a staple of Cowboys side's since he came to the club, however the rise of Robson has inspired a shake up in the middle of the field.

NRL; North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Jake Granville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
NRL; North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Jake Granville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Green said it was it was a reminder that every spot was up for grabs - particularly in a shorter season where week to week form was so crucial.

"I think we need to be playing close to our best footy given the season is a little bit shorter now. We might've had the luxury of a bit of time to get players into their best form … but we probably don't have that," he said.

"I felt we just needed a change up a bit there, Reuben has been training well also and Robbo has been in great form.

"I think (Robson) has been good both sides of the footy, he's got a good calm head about him and he picks his times well when to run."

Reece Robson. NRL Round 1 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville. North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Reece Robson. NRL Round 1 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville. North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

Coen Hess is set to return to the North Queensland back row, with Mitch Dunn also cleared of concussion.

Jason Taumalolo will be an outside chance to return in time for the clash at Central Coast Stadium with Green naming the Tongan leader on an extended bench. Gilbert has also maintained his role off the bench after injury ruled John Asiata out for 4-6 weeks.

Cowboys team vs New Zealand Warriors

1. Valentine Holmes; 2. Kyle Feldt; 3. Justin O'Neill; 4. Esan Marsters; 5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow; 6. Scott Drinkwater; 7. Jake Clifford; 8. Francis Molo; 9. Reece Robson; 10. Jordan McLean (c); 11. Mitch Dunn; 12. Coen Hess; 13. Josh McGuire; 14. Reuben Cotter; 15. Tom Gilbert; 16. Shane Wright; 17. Gavin Cooper; 18. Corey Jensen; 19. Peter Hola; 20. Jason Taumalolo; 21. Tom Opacic



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