Last season was an underwhelming one for the Cowboys after they failed to live up to a third-place finish in 2022 and missed the finals altogether, but a good start this time around will ensure that is quickly forgotten.
All but four of their home games being on a Saturday night will give them a nice chance to build a party atmosphere at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, while they'll be involved in six Queensland derbies across the year.
Teams they play twice
Home and away fixtures await against Queensland rivals the Dolphins, Titans and Broncos. They have to face the defending premiers twice, but the Cowboys also play last year's wooden spooners Wests Tigers and 15th-placed Bulldogs both home and away, with the Sharks and Raiders the other teams they'll see more than once during the regular season.
Teams they play once
Having just one game against the Warriors and Storm (and getting to play both of them in Townsville) takes away two of North Queensland's bigger potential trips in 2024. They'll be seeing the Knights – also in Townsville – Dragons, Eels, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Sea Eagles only once in 2024.
- Thursday: 2 games (1 home, 1 away)
- Friday: 3 games (1 home, 2 away)
- Saturday: 12 games (8 home, 4 away)
- Sunday: 7 games (2 home, 5 away)
- 5 days: 1 game
- 6 days: 10 games
- 7+ days: 12 games
Having just one five-day turnaround – which comes in the lead-up to facing Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval – is a bonus for the Cowboys, although they have more six-day turnarounds than any other club in 2024. Their longest break is a 16-day stretch between Round 15 and 17, when they'll travel to Penrith to face the defending premiers with both team's Origin players backing up from Game Two.
- Round 1: v Dolphins (A)
- Round 2: v Knights (H)
- Round 3: v Dragons (A)
- Round 4: v Broncos (A)
They get started with a Queensland derby against the Dolphins who they shared a win apiece with last year. The Cowboys' first home game sees them play the Knights in Round 2, before going on the road to face the Dragons and last year's runners-up, Brisbane, at Suncorp Stadium in Round 4.
After playing the Roosters in the annual round at Suncorp Stadium last year, the Cowboys take on the Rabbitohs as part of the Saturday triple header in 2024. North Queensland were 31-6 winners in their only game against South Sydney last season.
State of Origin watch
While they face the prospect of backing up after Game One against a Warriors side who may not be impacted at all by Origin selections, they get the Panthers on the back of Origin II which could be ideal timing in terms of potentially facing them without all their stars. Byes in Round 16 and 19 mean the Cowboys won't have to play during two of the three rounds where Origin players are ruled out, while they'll take on the Roosters in Round 13 without any players who get selected for state duties. After Origin III they back up against the Bulldogs.
Can't miss game
Round 8 v Panthers, Saturday at Queensland Country Bank Stadium (H)
North Queensland beat the premiers in Townsville last year thanks to a stunning solo effort from Scott Drinkwater who marched to the line pointing his finger at the helpless Penrith defenders deep into golden point. The Panthers well and truly got one back with a 44-12 win in the final round that ended the Cowboys' season, but there should be a bit of spice to this match-up again in 2024.