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Cowboys backs ready for Eels challenge

Thu, Sep 14, 2017 - 12:14PM
By ‌Dylan Morris‌‌, ‌NRL.com

The final make-up of the Cowboys' back five is yet to be set in stone, with centre Justin O'Neill racing the clock to be fit for Saturday's game against the Eels. 

 

‌Despite the uncertainty, as well as winger Antonio Winterstein's sub-par performance against the Sharks last weekend, the Cowboys are confident they'll be able to match it with the Eels' backline which includes Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings, who have scored thirty tries between them.

Assistant coach David Fairleigh is confident Winterstein will bounce back from his forgettable performance last week, and his experience could prove invaluable against such a strong attacking outfit. 

"He's been really good, and one of the things about Antonio is that he's physically and mentally a really strong person," Fairleigh said. 

"He learns from his mistakes and he's one guy who really cares about the team and I'm sure on Saturday night his experience will really shine through." 

North Queensland Winger Kyle Feldt will match up with the devastating Radradra, and he'll have his hands full keeping the explosive winger contained.  

"We've had a few good battles in the past couple of years, he's a big thing out there he's going to be hard to handle," Feldt said.  

"He's got a really good, strong carry, I can't give him my outside, he's got a good fend and he's got really good pace on him, so something I've been working on this week is to not give him too much of an outside." 

Although it's easy to identify his strengths, Feldt isn't so sure the Eels' winger is worth trying to exploit as a weak point, given his size and defensive ability, both in the air and on the ground. 

"We've got a few things in our bag, but I'm not too sure if we can really isolate him personally but we'll see if we can do it on the weekend," he said. 

"[The Eels] are just unpredictable, they love the offload so unstructured play they're really good at and we've just got to hold our line to really contain them and if they do get an offload keep pressing forward and don't give them too much."

Although the Cowboys have struggled to score points in the last six weeks, their defence has been exceptional, as evidenced by the way they denied the Cronulla Sharks from scoring any points in the last 30 minutes of last week. 

Feldt is confident their defence will be up to the greater challenge of denying the Eels too many points, but is hopeful their own attack will click. 

"We showed last week against Cronulla, we let them get out to an eight-nil head start and we ended up coming back and scoring a few points at crucial times in the game so we have no doubt our defence is up there," he said. 

"'Morgo' (Michael Morgan) and Te Maire [Martin] are really hitting their straps together, they've strung a few games together in the halves and they're looking sharp at training so hopefully we can put it together this week." 

 

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