COACH Neil Henry did not name a captain when the Cowboys side for Saturday night's clash with the Panthers was announced, but brilliant fullback Matt Bowen is expected to be given the nod for the first time in his 11 seasons with the club.
With season-long co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott on State of Origin duty, Henry had the choice between veterans Bowen and Aaron Payne, who have made 439 NRL appearances before them. Despite having played 235 NRL matches, the 30-year-old fullback who debuted for the Cowboys in 2001, has never previously captained the side.
Recalled for the Cowboys are Kiwi international Kalifa Faifai Loa and young gun Jason Taumalolo, who was recently New Zealand's 19th man for the Anzac Test. Veteran props Glenn Hall and Ashton Sims have been promoted, with Michael Morgan the five-eighth, Faifai Loa on the wing and Antonio Winterstein the new centre.
The Cowboys were boosted yesterday by the re-signing of second-rower Gavin Cooper until the end of 2014.
Cameron Ciraldo is the only change to the Panthers, still flying high after their 13-12 golden-point win over the Dragons on Monday night.
In other selection news, Glenn Fisiiahi has won back his fullback spot from earlier in the year for the Warriors, replacing Jerome Ropati who could miss the next two months with a dislocated knee; Daniel Mortimer is the Roosters new halfback, on duty for Mitchel Pearce; Leeson Ah Mau has won his first starting berth for the Dragons; Kieran Foran returns for the Sea Eagles; and Justin Hunt, son of former NSW Origin winger Neil Hunt, will make his debut on the wing for the Rabbitohs.