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Warriors not overreacting ahead of NQ bout

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/08/2016 Angelo Risso
<span style="font-size:13px;">Blake Ayshford returns to the Warriors' starting XIII at centre.</span> © AAP Image/David Rowland Blake Ayshford returns to the Warriors' starting XIII at centre.

The Warriors are staying the course for their must-win NRL encounter with the Cowboys despite last week's pasting against Souths.

The Auckland-based side were comprehensively outplayed through the middle against the lowly Rabbitohs and pinned back by the kicking game of halfback Adam Reynolds.

The 41-22 reverse on home turf came after a period of nine games without a loss in 80 minutes and took head coach Andrew McFadden by surprise.

But McFadden told reporters his side's destiny remained in its own hands.

A result against the fifth-placed Cowboys on Saturday would prime the side for a first finals berth in five years.

"We're not overreacting," McFadden said on Wednesday.

"The scoreline didn't look great but they got us with some tactics we need to be better prepared for."

McFadden has tweaked his line-up for the Warriors' trip to Townsville, dumping the prodigious Tuimoala Lolohea from the travelling squad.

David Fusitu'a moves to fullback, with Blake Ayshford returning at centre.

Lolohea, 21, was positionally suspect at fullback against the Rabbitohs and will look to rediscover his form at five-eighth in reserve grade.

"Someone had to fill the void when we lost Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck) and he's done a pretty good job for most of the year," McFadden said.

"But there's some things in his game he needs to work on and I'm confident he can sort it out."

North Queensland have lost four of their last five NRL games and are playing to claw back fourth place and the right to host a home final.

No team has won the title from outside the top four since Canterbury in 1995.

But halfback Shaun Johnson wasn't underestimating the scale of the challenge his side will face against the Johnathan Thurston-led outfit.

The 25-year-old said his side had "let themselves down" against Souths but had trained well during the week and were ready to make amends.

"They've got, in my eyes, the best player in the world, so that's always an awesome challenge," Johnson told reporters.

"It's a tough trip, a long trip for us, but one we're really excited about."

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