Lack of leaders stumps Cowboys coach
Demonstrating the slap-dash nature of team selections during the Origin period, Cowboys coach Paul Green is yet to name a captain for his side’s clash against the Raiders in Canberra on Sunday.
Green said Tuesday that the bulk of his leadership group was in Origin camp this week and due to Gavin Cooper’s recent injury, is stumped as to which of his charges will send the group into battle.
"My leadership group is gone. It probably would have been Gavin Cooper, but given the fact that yesterday it was the Origin guys and all about review and today was a day off training, I haven’t had a chance to talk to the playing group about that yet," Green said.
"Glenn Hall is in our leadership group and he’s off the bench so it makes it hard to captain the team from there. I'll have a look at it and talk to my assistants over the next couple of days and make a decision."
The combination of injury and Origin duties has forced Green to dig deep into his playing stocks, leaving just four of the Cowboys' 31-man squad to Intrust Super Cup feeder teams Mackay Cutters and Northern Pride.
Meanwhile, returning from injury are halfback Ray Thompson, back rower Jason Taumalolo and winger Curtis Rona, who will all occupy starting spots.
As always the absence of Origin stars opens the door for prospective players to show what they can offer in first grade, and Green is excited about giving those players more game-time, especially young forward Ethan Lowe.
"He (Lowe) has been really good on both sides of the ball. I think defensively his effort has been great, he’s made some really great decisions in defence. He’s run some good lines, he’s scored a try and I thought he was good on the weekend (against the Roosters) as well," Green said of the 23 year-old.
Just last year, Lowe was starting to look more toward a career away from football by taking up a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at university, but Green says his work ethic is what has got him all the way to a starting spot this weekend.
"That's our standard here. It's a really good story. Hopefully for Ethan he can keep his spot in the team. This is his second year in the Intrust Super Cup so it shows that when you finish under-20s and you haven’t made first grade, it’s not all over and Ethan Lowe is a great example of that.
"There are a lot of really good young guys on the way up so we need to get together and look at where we're going to beat the Raiders and go from there. (Development-wise) I think it could be a really great thing for this group."
With chief pivot Johnathan Thurston in Maroons camp, Green is hoping for some special kind of synergy from young halves and best mates Robert Lui and Thompson, who will fit the six and seven jerseys respectively.
"It's funny, I've coached both of them (Thompson and Lui) since they were kids," Green revealed. "I've coached both of them when they were in under-14s and 15s in their QAS squads so I’ve known them for a long time. Hopefully growing up with each other and playing with each other that combination can show on the weekend.
"Ray played well in the halves before he injured his knee and Robby has probably had his two best games these past two weeks, so hopefully that can continue."