Rugby League

World Club Challenge 2016: North Queensland Cowboys set to name NRL grand final side

Coach Paul Green has confirmed North Queensland's shot at becoming the first team in World Club Challenge history to win with the same squad that took out the previous domestic title.

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Cowboys settle in for World Club Challenge

The North Queensland Cowboys have given themselves a week to acclimatise to the English winter ahead of their World Club Challenge against Leeds Rhinos.

One of the enduring criticisms of the concept since its introduction in 1976 has been that the decider is most often played the following year, when both squads have changed dramatically.

But while Leeds will be without Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai at Headingley on Sunday night, Green says he doesn't plan any selection surprises.

Sticking with a winning formula: The Cowboys side to play in the World Club Challenge will be familiar to fans.
Sticking with a winning formula: The Cowboys side to play in the World Club Challenge will be familiar to fans. Photo: Getty Images

"It will be the same 17," Green told Fairfax Media at Heathrow yesterday. "It's just the way it's turned out.

"From a recruitment and retention point of view, we're pretty stable. It gives us that continuity to keep building from what we did last year.

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"We lost Ray Thompson, he fractured his ankle at All Stars training.

"If it was your final trial match it would normally be your best side in preparation for round one. To actually have something to play for is probably a good thing."

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Not even in 1992, when Brisbane beat Wigan a month after their grand final triumph against St George, did the victors managed to field the same side.

In some years, such as 1994, the British representatives in the WCC had won the Championship without competing in a final, complicating squad comparisons.

Leeds have their own historical imperative at Headingley next Sunday night – a victory would make them the most successful side in the history of the competition with a fourth trophy.

"It's a big game for our club, in our club's history," said Green. "We've never played in a game like this.

"We're taking it seriously but we're also playing with round one in mind."

In the absence of the injured Danny McGuire, Green was unsure which halves would be chosen by opposite number Brian McDermott.

"Jordan Lilley went pretty well when he came on (against Warrington) and Rob Burrow's there as well," said Green.

"Again, it's about getting our game sorted out. We'll spend a bit of time on Leeds but this is about – as I said – getting our game ready to go for the NRL."

The Cowboys arrived in London via Abu Dhabi on Saturday at lunchtime. Green and co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott will attend the series launch with their rivals from the other five clubs in Manchester on Monday.

Brisbane are also in camp over the weekend in London while Sydney Roosters remain in Dubai.

The Roosters arrive in the UK at lunchtime on Monday, straight in Manchester.

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