Age talk is old hat for young at heart Cowboys
THE Cowboys are the Dad's Army of the NRL, but North Queensland players insist their ageing squad is not in need of an overhaul.
The Cowboys will head into Friday night's crucial clash against Melbourne at 1300SMILES Stadium with the second-oldest team in the competition.
The average age of coach Paul Green's 15th-placed Cowboys this round is 27.28 years, coming in just a touch younger than Cronulla (27.95).
The Cowboys had the oldest team in the NRL until Green injected some youth last weekend in Enari Tuala (19) and Frank Molo (23).
Co-captains Johnathan Thurston (35) and Matt Scott (32) lead the older brigade, along with Gavin Cooper (32) and Scott Bolton (31).
The Sharks, on a five-game winning streak, have proven old heads can still be successful but North Queensland is desperately searching for a change of fortunes with only three wins this year.
Five-eighth Michael Morgan, 26, said the Cowboys would be criticised while they were losing.
"There is still young guys coming through," he said.
"We've blooded Frank Molo, Corey Jensen (24) is new and Enari got a start (against Souths) and did a good job in the centres.
"People will question our age. When you aren't winning, the critics start to look for reasons as to why and our age is probably one of them.
"But I don't think we are (too old)."
Green has kept the bulk of his squad together since clinching North Queensland's first NRL premiership in 2015.
Ten premiership players faced the Rabbitohs last weekend, and it would have been 12 if Green had not dropped Lachlan Coote (28) and Ethan Lowe (27).
The youthful Penrith Panthers are the NRL's youngest team (24.59 years) this weekend, but the ladder-leading Dragons (26.94 years) are only marginally younger than the Cowboys.
Due to numerous injuries in their reserves, Green does not have a lot of young talent he could promote for the match against the Storm.
Centre Justin O'Neill, 27, said North Queensland's senior players were crucial to the club's success in recent years.
"The older boys in the team show a lot of leadership and have a lot of wisdom to offer the team," he said.
"We believe they can do the job when they're out there.
"There is no doubt over the older boys being too old. We believe they can do the job still."
Scott (knee) must pass a fitness test at training on Thursday if he is to face the Storm in the final round before State of Origin selection.
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