Hess looking forward to new NRL challenge

North Queensland forward Coen Hess has been shifted to prop when the Cowboys play Canterbury.
North Queensland forward Coen Hess has been shifted to prop when the Cowboys play Canterbury.

Having played most of his career in the back-row, North Queensland's most recent centurion Coen Hess has been re-deployed as a prop to simplify his output for the Cowboys.

The State of Origin representative notched his 100th game for the club in their round-four loss to Cronulla, with his side scoring their first win of 2021 against Wests in round five of the NRL.

Although Hess, 24, rates himself as one of the smaller players around the NRL in his new position, he supports Todd Payten's decision to shift him to the middle where he thinks can find some consistency.

"I think he's (Payten) just trying to keep it simple for me, that's probably the best part about it," Hess said.

"Back-row is probably more of a specialist-type position now that the way the game is going, so I think in the middle there it's a lot simpler.

"Just run hard and tackle hard."

After struggling to find form in 2021 off the back of a dismal start to the year for the Cowboys (1-4), Hess said an interchange option gives him the chance to maximise his playing minutes.

"I think it really complements probably the best parts of my game and I think that's why Todd has put me in there, so really excited for the role on the team and looking to execute well.

"Just the luxury of getting a rest and then recouping and then going again for the second since stint, is something that works well for me."

But Hess can't put a timeframe on an extended spell in the middle, saying his priority remains on delivering for his side.

"I like to play the game really fast and all the middle forwards (around the NRL) are bringing that into the team," he said.

"If I can continue to do that and everybody's happy with the way that I'm playing, I'll be happy to do my role on the team."

In a clash of the bottom-placed sides in the NRL on Sunday, Hess and the Cowboys face a Canterbury outfit (0-5) desperate to earn their first win of the season.

He knows the dangers a team written-off can bring, much like his Queensland State of Origin side in 2020, and says they need to stick to the theme Payten's employed in training.

"I think they'll like their can chances coming up here," Hess said.

"We haven't really been too good at home and we understand that so I think it's about starting fast just like what we did on the weekend (against Wests Tigers."

Australian Associated Press