Having gone 0-2 to kick off the 2021 season, North Queensland coach Todd Payten says the whole club is under pressure.
Frustration in on the rise in Townsville with a worrying sense around the club after disappointing defeats to Penrith and St George Illawarra, and the tide needs to turn – and quick.
“They (the players) are feeling it after two losses absolutely, there’s a little bit of tension here … we’re looking for a better performance and a win,” Payten said.
“We’re the only ones that can get ourselves out of it, we have to actually believe in ourselves and go after it.
“My message is we just need to relax, trust each other, trust what we’ve done in the pre-season, and then trust themselves.”
The Cowboys’ next test is their first Queensland derby, with a powerful new-look Gold Coast outfit coming to town.
The NRL judiciary has forced Payten into one change for this weekend’s game, but he’s unwilling to wield the axe and mix up positions just yet.
Kyle Feldt will miss the next two matches for a dangerous throw on Dragons centre Jack Bird, so youngster Murray Taulagi will slot in on the wing.
Payten believes Taulagi has been unlucky to not start already this year and opted for the young winger over veteran Justin O’Neill.
“Justin played really well in the Q Cup, and pushed a claim for an NRL game but he’s spent most of his time in the centres,” Payten added.
“Muzz (Taulagi) has spent more time for us in the pre-season on the wing, and he’s a definite threat for us in the air, so that’s what tipped him over the edge.
“”If he plays well he will certainly cement his case to stay in the team … where, I dont know.”