After suffering a form slump, North Queensland back-rower Coen Hess must now overcome a serious case of being “starstruck” following Test lock Josh McGuire’s Cowboys arrival.
Hess has already been challenged by Cowboys prop Matt Scott to recapture his 2017 form which propelled him from the North Queensland bench to State of Origin honours after an underwhelming NRL season.
Hess’ disappointing display reflected the Cowboys’ plight as they narrowly missed collecting the 2018 wooden spoon and hung on to finish 13th.
The 22-year-old said his confidence had already been boosted for 2019 after earning a three-year contract extension that will keep him at the Cowboys until the end of 2022.
Now Hess just has to get his head around playing alongside McGuire, who has bolstered the Cowboys pack since arriving from Brisbane on a four season deal.
“You look around at training and in a way get starstruck,” Queensland representative Hess said of McGuire.
“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play with him in the Maroons.
“You can see he has taken it upon himself to make himself known within the club.
“You really love having guys like Moose (McGuire) in your team.
“He’s a guy who is a real competitor and hates losing. That’s what every club wants and needs.”
Hess has played five games for the Maroons and 59 NRL matches since making his senior debut as a 19-year-old in 2015.
He finally nailed down a Cowboys starting spot in 2018 but only showed flashes of last year’s brilliance, scoring seven tries from 23 games while averaging 99m and 32 tackles.
Hess is ready to reclaim his mojo and reward the Cowboys’ faith after securing the new deal he hopes will help make him a one club player.
“It (new deal) is a step in right direction for sure,” Hess said.
“By the time I am finished (new deal) I will be 26 so hopefully I sign one more contract and that will be me done.
“But in saying there is a long time between now and then. I have got four years now to really cement myself in the team and continue to improve.”
Hess hopes to be involved in North Queensland’s pre-season games against Gold Coast Titans on the Sunshine Coast on February 23 and Melbourne at Mackay on March 1.