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Cowboys v Rabbitohs: Drinkwater at back; Murray edges wide

The Cowboys will be desperate to awaken from a nightmare 2020 season which has seen them reduced to also-ran status and contenders for the wooden spoon.

North Queensland have won just one of their past 10 games and arguably hit rock bottom when hammered 30-10 by Sunshine State rivals the Titans last weekend on the Gold Coast.

The Cowboys sit above only the Broncos and Bulldogs on the ladder, just two points ahead of last-placed Canterbury, and things don't get any easier from here with five of their final seven fixtures against top eight sides. 

South Sydney, in contrast, are clinging to a spot in the eight and after two successive wins will fancy their chances of banking the two points and keeping themselves in that conversation.

The Rundown

Team news

Cowboys: Scott Drinkwater returns from a knee injury at fullback. Prop John Asiata returns from a knee injury on the bench in place of Tom Gilbert.

The Cowboys have won only two games from seven at QCB Stadium.

Corey Jensen and Esan Marsters were cut from the reserves 24 hours before kick-off and Shane Wright and Jake Clifford were omitted an hour before kick-off.

Rabbitohs: Cameron Murray is set for a switch to the edge with Liam Knight starting at lock and Bayley Sironen moving to the bench. Murray is expected to revert back to the middle when Sironen comes onto the field. The Rabbitohs have won their past four games against the Cowboys.

Troy Dargan and Kurt Dillon were omitted 24 hours before kick-off and Jack Johns and Corey Allan made way on game day.

Key match-up

Michael Morgan v Adam Reynolds: The Cowboys veteran endured a torrid return from long-term injury against the Titans and will be eager to make amends. The halfback missed seven tackles and made three errors in a display coach Josh Hannay put down to "trying too hard".

With his Rabbitohs rival coming off an influential outing against Brisbane Morgan just has to be better. Reynolds scored a try, kicked six from seven and forced five line dropouts to pin the Broncos deep in their own territory while combining beautifully with Cody Walker to direct South Sydney's attack.

Stat Attack

Winger Alex Johnston reigns as the NRL's intercept king so North Queensland's playmakers will need to be cautious when throwing cutout balls on his side of the field.

Johnston has pounced on five errant passes so far this season, leading that category clearly ahead of a three-way tie for second (Scott Drinkwater, Suliasi Vunivalu and David Nofoaluma) on three intercepts.