Cowboys determined to tough it out
Despite sitting two wins outside the top eight and dealing with myriad injury concerns, the 11th-placed Cowboys are in no way panicking, coach Paul Green preferring to draw positives from the situation.
The side, tipped by many to be a top four contender in pre-season predictions, hit a low-point on Monday night when they were trounced by a more enthusiastic Knights side, with the sidelining of halfback Ray Thompson adding injury to insult.
From the start of the season Green's mantra has been to focus on what was done well, and while finals aspirations are looking a little shaky, he says this is not the time to put additional pressure on themselves.
"It's not a crisis, it's footy. We are not panicking. Different teams might find that more motivating than others but we are certainly not anywhere near that at the moment," Green said.
"There was some good stuff out of the game the other night but there was some play where we could've been a lot better and we didn't get the result we wanted but we will keep fighting.
"It's a tough part of the year for us. If you look at the draw, if we had everyone fit and healthy it would still be a tough part of the draw for us. The middle of the Origin period we have a string of games away so we always knew this would be a tough period. It's been made a little tougher with the injuries we do have but it will give us an opportunity to show what character the club is made of.
"I still think there is improvement left in us but we are in there working hard. We'll be all right, we'll knuckle down and band together and fight our way out."
Arriving in Townsville late Tuesday night, the Cowboys face a very short turnaround before Saturday's home game against South Sydney, with Green opting for a lighter load in training this week.
The selection reshuffle continues with Johnathan Thurston moving to halfback for the first time this year, partnering with Robert Lui at five-eighth.
"It won't change how we play a hell of a lot, but hopefully with the No.7 on [Thurston's] back will provide us with a bit more direction. It will hopefully bring him closer to the action," Green said.
Meanwhile Anthony Mitchell gets a second call-up to occupy a bench utility role and ease the workload of a hampered Rory Kostjasyn, who looked to have suffered rib cartilage damage, but was cleared by doctors post-game.
On the injury front, Thompson got scans on his hamstring Wednesday, while the prognosis on Matt Scott is six weeks on the sidelines.