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Drinkwater happy to fight for Cowboys role

North Queensland playmaker Scott Drinkwater is ready to welcome fresh competition when new signings Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden arrive at the NRL club for next season.

The 23-year-old has stepped up in his role this season, steering the team following the injury-forced retirement of Origin star Michael Morgan, with his kicking game a focal part of the Cowboys' recent three-game winning streak.

Initially deployed at fullback at the start of the season, Drinkwater's move to the halves has proved a masterstroke by coach Todd Payten as the Cowboys turned their poor early form around.

And Drinkwater, who is off contact at year's end, says it's refreshing to hear Payten say he's next on the recruitment line for season 2022, following the recent signings of Townsend and Dearden.

"We've signed two halves (for next year) but it's good to know I'm still wanted," he said.

"There was plenty of competition this year with Cliffo (Jake Clifford) and Morgs (Michael Morgan) in the pre-season as well, so competition is healthy.

"We made two good signings and I'm sure when they get up here they'll be chomping at the bit to put their best foot forward, but at the moment, (I'm) purely focused on this year and this week."

Drinkwater noted a marked change in atmosphere around the club since notching wins over Wests Tigers, Canterbury and Canberra.

"It's just a happy environment to come into... everything is positive and it just builds belief and confidence in the group," he said.

"We're finding ways to win a game instead of losing them as we've done in the past, so that's a massive one.

"Not finding a way to lose is hard and we've struggled to find a way to win the last two years."

The Cowboys are chasing an away win over Payten's former club the Warriors and will need to contain the mercurial Roger Tuivasa-Sheck when the sides meet on Sunday afternoon.

Tuivasa-Sheck, who currently leads the NRL in running metres per game at 168, will don the fullback jersey again following a shift to the wing in their ANZAC round loss to Melbourne.

Teenager Reece Walsh has been moved to the halves while David Fusitu'a returns to solidify the back three with Tuivasa-Sheck and Ken Maumalo.

Tohu Harris and Adam Pompey also return from injury, while Josh Curran is set to play following a downgrade on a careless high tackle at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.

In more welcome news for the Warriors, playmaker Kodi Nikorima exercised his player option on Friday to extend his stay at the club.

The 27-year-old joined the club midway through the 2019 season and will now remain with the Warriors until the end of 2022.

© AAP 2021

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