NORTH Queensland coach Paul Green has played down talk the Cowboys are on a payback mission but admits his players have battled to accept their insipid performance against Brisbane earlier this year.
The 44-22 round three loss at Suncorp Stadium, though, was the last time the Cowboys have tasted defeat.
Tomorrow night's NRL blockbuster at 1300Smiles Stadium presents them with a chance to redeem themselves and Brisbane is expecting to confront a North Queensland cyclone.
Green said his players would be more motivated by wanting to show their fans what they can do as a team than by settling any scores.
"I was disappointed with how we played that night (in Brisbane) and I know the players were also very disappointed," he said.
"We played like a team searching for confidence.
"This is a chance not for a payback or square-up but to show our fans what we are capable of doing."
The Cowboys are celebrating their 20th anniversary and will have an Old Boys reunion tomorrow, which is sure to have the players fired up to play well.
Green has stuck with 22-year-old Samoan John Asiata at lock after he made his NRL starting debut against the physical Bulldogs last weekend for injured star James Taumalolo.
"He doesn't have to play like James, he has to play like John Asiata," the coach said.
"It's important when young guys come into a team they play their own game. Johnny plays with a fair bit of skill. He has a nice pass before the line and we'll be looking for him to use that."
Asiata, who played in the halves as a junior and has good ball skills, said starting was a lot faster then coming off the bench and the speed of last week's game had been an eye-opener.
"It was my first NRL start ever. It was different. It was a lot quicker then when I normally come on, the pace of the game was just crazy and there were no mistakes in the first 10 minutes," the rookie said.
"I hung in and hopefully did the job."
Brisbane has memories of two losses in Townsville to spur it on and want to protect its place on top of the NRL ladder before heading into State of Origin.
"They're playing very well and they've got guys like Anthony Milford, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd and Ben Hunt, so they are dangerous everywhere," Green said.
"You don't fluke leading the NRL competition."
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