Cowboys given chance at redemption
Cowboys coach Todd Payten says there is no bad blood between he and Jason Taumalolo after his post-match comments, as he named an unchanged line up for their forthcoming clash against the Dragons.
Payten has been vocal about his intentions to use the star lock in a quality over quantity capacity, in a bid to improve his longevity in the game and force more effort in defence.
The 42-year-old was left unimpressed by a lack of urgency in pressuring Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary in the lead up to the final try, however he said the communication with his marquee forward had not been hindered by his public call out.
"We have a long relationship, I've known him for seven years, and have had constant dialogue with him over the last few days," Payten said.
"He knows he can be honest with me too, it's a two-way street, and things are fine there.
"I think it was well received (across the squad), they know how I operate - I'm pretty black and white.
"It's not something that came out of the blue, it's been consistent feedback for our whole group not just from me, but all our coaching staff, (and) I expect us to respond with a good performance."
"I can't tell you what's going to happen in a few weeks' time, but I just know at the moment our best 17 is playing this weekend."
Payten has resisted the urge to ring in wholesale changes after the 24-0 loss to Penrith, with the same 17 given the chance to redeem themselves on home soil.
That includes the continued absence of premiership-winning centre Justin O'Neill, who is instead set to line up for the Townsville Blackhawks in the Intrust Super Cup season opener.
Given across the board the North Queensland outfit struggled, making 18 errors in the contest, Payten said he "couldn't drop one or two" as he seeks to establish continuity in the side.
He said the opening round defeat had given the side a "good reality check" into how crucial executing the one-percenters were.
"I wouldn't think it knocks our confidence but there are some guys who will have a good look at their own performance," Payten said.
"We are where we are, it's not just going to fix in 10 weeks in a pre-season, and it's going to take some time.
"We were off a fair bit, but hung in there for large chunks of the game so as a coach you have to be realistic, you also have to take positives out of it and give the guys a bit of belief.
"We have to get the little detail parts right in our game, all those little things add up."
COWBOYS TEAM VS ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
1. Scott Drinkwater, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Esan Marsters, 4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Michael Morgan (c), 7. Jake Clifford, 8. Francis Molo, 9. Reece Robson, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Mitch Dunn, 12. Coen Hess, 13. Jason Taumalolo (c), 14. Jake Granville, 15. Josh McGuire, 16. Corey Jensen, 17. Reuben Cotter, 18. Lachlan Burr, 19. Shane Wright, 20. Murray Taulagi, 21. Ben Hampton
Originally published as Cowboys given chance at redemption