James Maloney is a new player at the Sharks.
James Maloney is a new player at the Sharks. Getty Images

Better the devil you know for the Cowboys

RATHER than contempt, North Queensland coach Paul Green hopes familiarity breeds premierships.

Green, who took the Cowboys to their maiden premiership last October, will kick-start the club's title defence against Cronulla at home on Saturday night with the same 17 players who took the field in last year's grand final triumph.

In comparison, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has a host of new faces in his 17-man squad, including a new halves combination of James Maloney (pictured) and Chad Townsend.

Former Dally M winner Ben Barba has been named at fullback, with young gun Jack Bird to start in the centres.

"It's good because you're not starting from scratch in some respects with some key combinations," Green said.

"That's the early advantage you have over some other clubs, having that core group of players who are familiar with each other

"A number of other clubs have made some big off-season purchases in key positions and nobody really knows how long it will take some of them to gel."

Green said he rated the Sharks highly, and admitted both teams would be keen to start with a win after going 0-3 last season.

"They've got a very good pack of forwards, very physical," he said.

"They didn't start last season too well like us and we're probably in the same boat and we will both be keen to get off to a better start to the season."

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