Sport

Coote and Townsend facing the blowtorch

Chad Townsend of the Sharks makes a break during the NRL qualifying final against the Raiders.
Chad Townsend of the Sharks makes a break during the NRL qualifying final against the Raiders. DAN HIMBRECHTS

RUGBY LEAGUE: North Queensland will apply the acid to Sharks halfback Chad Townsend's jangling finals nerves in their knockout preliminary final at Allianz Stadium tomorrow night.

When his team arrived in Sydney, Cowboys coach Paul Green revealed his hand when asked whether he thought the Sharks would launch a bombing raid on his fullback Lachlan Coote, who had an ordinary night out against Brisbane last week.

"If they want to go out of their way that's fine because he is probably the best positional fullback in the competition,” Green said.

"He had an off night against the Broncos and I have complete confidence in Cooty. That's the strength of his game and if they want to target it, it will only bring him into the game more and he will respond the way we want.”

Green then turned the blowtorch on Townsend, who suffered the embarrassment of being "hooked” by coach Shane Flanagan when the game was in the balance against Canberra, switching Jack Bird into the halves with James Maloney.

"For a halfback, you never want to get hooked,” Green said, suggesting Townsend would be mentally scared.

"His confidence has had to have taken a bit of a hit and I see some of their players have gone out of their way to pump him up.

"He is a guy we can target. His confidence surely would have to have taken a hit after being hooked.

"He is a guy we definitely want to test out.”

Green also attempted to alert the match referees to concerns Cronulla's defence repeatedly jumped the gun when the Cowboys lost to them 13-10 in round 13.

That night Andrew Fifita, Paul Gallen and Wade Graham took them on through the middle.

"They were quick out of the blocks all night,” Green said.

"I spoke to the refs about the 10 metres and I am hoping they police that and give us a good open game of footy which fans will enjoy.

"I'm not asking the refs to doing anything other than the norm and to ref the game to the rules.”

Green said he would know how much fuel last Friday night's battle with Brisbane took out of his players towards the end of the game but was happy with their mental approach this week.

He said he was fairly confident Kane Linnett would get through the final training session and take his place in the centres.

He also expected Sharks skipper Paul Gallen to play a massive game despite his lack of match fitness.

"He's a tough guy who knows how to play the big games,” Green said.

Topics:  chad townsend, cronulla sharks, north queensland cowboys, nrl finals, paul green


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