The North Queensland Cowboys will again be without champion play-maker Jonathan Thurston for the Auckland Nines after they released their 18-man squad today for the upcoming tournament that takes place at Eden Park on January 31 and February 1.

Thurston missed the inaugural event in 2014 but the Cowboys reigned supreme and they will have to do without their star again in 2015.

New recruits Kelepi Tanginoa, Jake Granville and Justin O’Neill have been named, as well as 2014 stars Michael Morgan and Jason Taumololo. After a sensational tournament in 2014, Javid Bowen, cousin of Cowboys legend Matt Bowen has again been named, but there is no Matt Scott or James Tamou in the squad.

The Cowboys are grouped in the Waiheke group and kick off their title defence against the Melbourne Storm. Their other match on day one is against the South Sydney Rabbtiohs and their final pool match is against the Penrith Panthers on day two.

North Queensland Cowboys 2015 Auckland Nines Squad

Michael Morgan
Justin O’Neill
Tautau Moga
Kyle Feldt
Matthew Wright
Ray Thompson
Robert Lui
John Asiata
Rory Kostjasyn
Kelepi Tanginoa
Gavin Cooper(c)
Ethan Lowe
Jason Taumalolo
Jake Granville
Zac Santo
Coen Hess
Javid Bowen
Ben Spina