BATHURST, AUSTRALIA — MAY 04: Coen Hess of the Cowboys is tackled during the round nine AFL match between the Penrith Panthers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Carrington Park on May 4, 2018 in Bathurst, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
BATHURST, AUSTRALIA — MAY 04: Coen Hess of the Cowboys is tackled during the round nine AFL match between the Penrith Panthers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Carrington Park on May 4, 2018 in Bathurst, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Coen Hess keen to impress

COWBOYS forward Coen Hess has conceded he needs to improve his defence to press his Queensland Origin claims as he prepares to stare down Souths' deadly left edge.

While the 21-year-old made 44 tackles and missed just one in last week's loss to the Tigers, making the right defensive reads remains a work in progress.

The Tigers exposed the Cowboys' right edge on numerous occasions and the Rabbitohs left edge, spearheaded by Cody Walker, John Sutton and Greg Inglis, has been the NRL's most dangerous this year.

Spots in the Maroons pack are wide open with injury set to rule out Broncos stars Josh McGuire and Matt Gillett for game one on June 6.

But given the Cowboys have won just three of ten games and face two tough home assignment against Souths on Saturday and Melbourne next week, Hess isn't thinking too far ahead.

"They (Tigers) exploited us (right edge) at times and we've addressed that, and tried to implement some different strategies to fix up some things," Hess said.

"Hopefully this week we're a lot better, we need to be.

"I think we're giving playmakers too much time. We need to focus on getting up and shutting down plays, and stop giving them enough time to exploit us.

"We need to start stringing some wins together, it's starting to come down to a do-or-die situation."

Hess spent most of his first full NRL season last year in the middle third, but has overtaken Ethan Lowe for a starting back row spot.

He gets an ideal chance to showcase his Origin credentials in one-on-one duels with veterans John Sutton (Rabbitohs) and Ryan Hoffman (Storm) over the next fortnight.

"Defensively, I need to improve," he said.

"Coming up against the Bunnies is a big test, not just for myself but for the middle third of the field.

"They're probably trying to stamp their authority at the best pack in the game and they've been showing that potential lately.

"It's a good test and if we can give it to them, they can give it to everyone."

Cowboys teammates Matt Scott and Gavin Cooper are expected to be named in the Queensland pack, with their experience vital in a depleted Maroons side.

"Everyone is fighting for positions in a way and I think that's what Kevvie (Walters, Maroons coach) wants," Hess said.

"Playing good football for your club is how you get selected for those teams. That's how I got selected last year it's something I don't think about."



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