Cowboys star says adapt or perish amid rule changes
RUGBY league is changing, and Coen Hess says it is up to the players to adapt or perish.
The Cowboys forward had a rude introduction to the new rules around the ruck, even getting sin binned against the Gold Coast Titans.
But it is how the game is evolving, and the 23-year-old said there was no wallowing about it. They needed to rise to the challenge.
"If that's the direction they want to go in us as players will have to adapt. I think it probably suits that entertaining style of footy and that's only good for the fans," Hess said.
"It gives the product of rugby league an edge, a bit of excitement, and obviously that's going to suit players better than others.
"But that's the direction the game's obviously going in, so individuals and teams will just have to adapt and I guess it's just another chapter in the story of rugby league."
North Queensland will look to cast aside a disappointing two weeks when they meet Wests Tigers.
Defensive lapses on the last tackle of a set cost the Cowboys dearly in their loss to the New Zealand Warriors, and Hess said that frustration had fuelled their desire to come out a stronger, mentally tougher unit.
So too has the noise outside of the club regarding coach Paul Green's tenure.
Critics have questioned Green's ability to lead the side to another premiership, but Hess said the 47-year-old's record spoke for itself.
"I don't really think it's fair on Greeny to put the pressure on him. He's not the one out there making tackles and letting in tries on fifth and last - it's down to us collectively," Hess said.
"If the critics are coming at one of us, whether it's a player or coach, you want to stick up for your mate and do your best to prove those people wrong.
"That will be the mentality of the group this week, if it's a bit of pack mentality they're coming for one of your members and you have to stick up for them."
The Cowboys mounting injury tally - featuring Michael Morgan, Jordan McLean, John Asiata and Valentine Holmes - has had a significant impact on their season, it has presented the opportunity to blood new players into the 17.
Tom Gilbert and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow made their starts against the Sharks and Warriors respectively, and now Connelly Lemuelu will get his crack.
Hess said it had created and exciting feel around the playing group, and hoped that exuberance would rub off on the rest of the squad against the Tigers.
"When a young guy gets his opportunity to debut it's sort of nice watching them throughout the week.
"Everyone understands where they are at the moment, how excited they are, they've got an extra spring in their step it's nice to watch them go about their week and how they approach it in their different ways.
"It's really exciting and there's certainly a good buzz around the group when there's a debutant that week."
Originally published as Cowboys star says adapt or perish amid rule changes