Cowboys lose Cooper, King in Roosters win
It's fair to say that the footballing deities were having a pretty rotten day on Saturday.
The term 'cost of victory' has never been clearer for North Queensland after the footy gods struck down back rower Gavin Cooper and young hooker Cameron King with what appeared to be long-term injuries in their 42-10 thrashing of the Sydney Roosters.
Cooper went down with a suspected dislocated hip in the 53rd minute after landing awkwardly under multiple Roosters tacklers, while early diagnosis has King suffering suspected ACL damage to his left knee after a tackle went wrong inside the final 10 minutes.
The loss of Cooper could not come at a worse time for a Cowboys pack likely to be stripped bare next week due to Origin commitments, with Matt Scott, James Tamou and Tariq Sims all likelihoods for selection.
"Injuries are never good. It's a long road back, particularly long-term injuries like that," said Cowboys coach Paul Green.
"You go through a lot of different emotions as well as dealing with the actual injury. I'm sure they will get through whatever they have to do to get themselves back on track and they will work hard on their recovery and as a team we will support them."
In positive signs for the forwards, workhorse Scott Bolton ran for a season-best 124 metres after starting in the second row.
"Bolts (Bolton) carried the footy really well for us tonight, he was a handful. He really got us on the front foot," Green said.
Bolton's solid performance was backed up by Ashton Sims (100 metres) and young interchange Ethan Lowe (81 metres), who have given North Queensland cause for optimism with the impending absence of their Origin stars.
A second last-minute recall in as many weeks for halfback Robert Lui has also furthered concerns about utility Ray Thompson's troublesome knee injury, suffered against Parramatta in Round 8, but Green has played them down, saying it was simply a precautionary measure.
"(Thompson) trained through the week and it was all on track but he just pulled up a little bit sorer than we'd hoped. If we played him we would've put him at greater risk of re-injury so we didn't think it was worth the risk," Green said.
Lui was again solid in Thompson's absence, increasing his involvement in the kicking game as well as on the defensive end.
"(Defence) is something that Rob needed to improve in his game and like all of the boys he's been working hard in that area and we're happy for him. He played well last week and backed it up again this week, so it's pleasing."
After three consecutive wins the Cowboys now find themselves cemented in the top eight but quickly need to plug the holes left by both Origin and injury, with their next assignment a Sunday afternoon encounter with Canberra at GIO Stadium.