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No Cowboys ambush: Maguire

All the hallmarks of a North Queensland Cowboys ambush are there ahead of Saturday night's NRL clash with South Sydney.
No Cowboys ambush: Maguire
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Aug 2 AAP - All the hallmarks of a North Queensland Cowboys ambush are there ahead of Saturday night's NRL clash with South Sydney.

The top-of-the-table Rabbitohs would be forgiven for being in holiday mode after spending the past week on the Gold Coast tourist strip before flying out to Townsville on Friday.

And waiting for them is a Cowboys outfit desperate to bounce from coach Neil Henry's sacking and ex-mentor Graham Murray's sad passing to remain faint finals hopes.

But ruthless Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire claimed they had already received their wake-up call for the season and would show no mercy to a battling North Queensland as they built toward a rare title tilt.

Maguire wielded the axe after South Sydney's shock July 22 loss to St George Illawarra and the Rabbitohs duly responded with a 32-4 blitz of Gold Coast Titans last round.

Maguire said players knew they would have to produce more of the same against 13th-placed North Queensland - or else.

"If you don't turn up, you get bitten. We want to make sure that doesn't happen again," he said.

"(But) at the end of the day it is about their position in the team.

"It is pretty competitive in this team and they need to be switched on when they train.

"I made some changes after St George due to certain performances - now the players understand what they have to do."

If Maguire empathised with North Queensland during their week from hell, he hid it well on Friday.

"There's obviously been some disturbances up there but it's about us keeping our run going," he said.

"We are aware they have a great team up there.

"They have a big front row, two of the best in the game (Matt Scott, James Tamou).

"And with Johnathan Thurston behind them he will create dramas for any team.

"But we have spent the week only looking at the areas we believe we need to improve on and that starts tomorrow night."

The poker-faced Maguire finally showed a hint of emotion at the prospect of Test props Scott and Tamou lining up against his prized Burgess brothers.

George and Sam Burgess will pack down in the front row while fellow hulking sibling Tom is set to explode off the bench.

In a timely gauge ahead of the World Cup, Test coach Tim Sheens is expected to fly up to Townsville to run the rule over Scott and Tamou in their heavyweight clash with the bustling Brits.

"It's definitely going to be on in the front row. We are expecting a tough encounter in the middle," Maguire smiled.

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