Cormac Pearson takes a look at the North Queensland Cowboys draw for season 2020.
2019 was a year to forget for the North Queensland Cowboys, who finished well over par at 14th. But with a new year, comes a new home, and a new Holme. A new era for North Queensland begins in 2020 with a mouth-watering Round 1 clash against their biggest rivals, the Broncos, at the brand new North Queensland Stadium.
After years of missing out, the home to a large proportion of military service-people will get to celebrate ANZAC day in Townsville against the Bulldogs.
Overall, the draw for the Cowboys is a fairly even one. Whilst they have to play the reigning premiers and minor premiers twice, they do have doubles against some lower ranked sides.
The start to their season will be crucial, playing the Broncos twice in the first five rounds. If they can get some confidence with their new spine early, a top eight return could be beckoning for the north. A magic round spectacle against the Roosters will be one to watch.
The Cowboys will have five Thursday night games and seven Friday night games, reaffirming them as one of the most watched sides in the NRL. Seven Saturday night home games will give the travelling fans a chance to see their side in the new stripes and stadium.
This draw gives the Cowboys an absolute chance of getting back into the top eight.
Teams they play twice: Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Gold Coast Titans, New Zealand Warriors, Parramatta Eels, Newcastle Knights, Cronulla Sharks.
Teams they play once: West Tigers, Canberra Raiders, St George Illawarra Dragons, Penrith Panthers, Manly Sea-Eagles, South-Sydney Rabbitohs.
Bye week: Round 16