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Souths clash a finals preview for Cowboys

It all comes down to two matches for North Queensland who are chasing victory in each to secure two home finals in 2022.

The road home for their first finals appearance since 2017 and opportunity for two home finals sees the Cowboys face South Sydney away before meeting minor premiers Penrith at home.

Tied for second with Cronulla, the Cowboys’ for and against holds them in good stead to maintain that spot should they see off their next two opponents.

No further motivation is required than the tantalising prospect of playing in front of their fans in week one, and centre Peta Hiku says they are naturally hungry for victory.

“I suppose it’s a good time for it, obviously they’ll be in the finals run as well,” Hiku said on Wednesday.

“It’ll be good for us to get a taste of how it’s going to be and build into it.

“And then it gives us a couple of weeks to learn from it before the actual finals.

“So I think it’ll be good for us to play these two teams that have been coming into some very good form.”

Hiku’s right edge will be under fire come Saturday evening as South Sydney’s left edge attack boasts top NRL tryscorer Alex Johnston, Cody Walker and superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell looming.

He said the key to shutting them down is purely reactionary as the trio play what’s in front of them and aren’t afraid to throw caution to the wind.

“They’ve just mastered what they see and how to play to the defenders,” Hiku said.

“If we can just slow down the ruck, get onside and get set, I think that’ll help us a long way.”

It’s been a while since North Queensland have been in contention this late into a season.

Forward Coen Hess, who was part of the side that snuck into the eight and won three in a row to make the 2017 grand final, said there’s some differences between now and then.

“It’s kinda funny, we weren’t really expecting it. I remember I was at the Seaview Hotel and I thought we were going to be on mad Monday in a few hours,” Hess said of their 2017 finals appearance.

“I’m just glad for all the players who haven’t experienced it. It’s obviously a tremendous ride of emotions and the buzz around the town is second to none.

“I’m looking forward to all those guys experiencing it and seeing what they can offer on the finals stage.”

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