The South Sydney Rabbitohs look to have lost Origin forward Chris McQueen for an extended period after he suffered a suspected syndesmosis injury in the 52nd minute of Saturday night's clash with the Cowboys.
After consultation with team doctors, coach Michael Maguire said after the defeat in Townville: "I think it might be a bad one but we'll just have to look at scans. It's not looking good."
The injury compounded a bad night for the red and green, who prior to the 20-18 defeat were riding a four-game winning streak.
"(It was a) poor start. We just had to do too much work," said a clearly dejected Maguire.
"The game was probably won or lost at the start there. We knew exactly how they would (come out). Their record up here speaks for itself. We knew exactly what we were facing and we didn't match it."
Apart from a disastrous first 10 minutes which saw the score balloon to 14-0 in favour of North Queensland, Maquire was pleased with the effort of his team.
"We came out in the second half and we went back into the style of play that we set out to and we put ourselves back into an opportunity of winning that game, and unfortunately we lacked (energy) at the back of the game because of all the hard work we had to do at the start," he said.
When asked whether last week's bye halted the momentum generated from four consecutive wins, Maguire did not make any excuses.
"It's just an excuse really. The boys are professional and they train and they do everything that's required, we just didn't probably have the right attitude when we stepped across the line at the start of the game. We knew it was going to be a physical game and it was that," he said.
Falling victim to lapses in concentration have resulted in some unexpected losses for South Sydney against the Wests Tigers and Canberra earlier this year, an issue the team has discussed.
"We've got to make (these kinds of losses) a hiccup. It's up to us how we react from this. It's obviously disappointing that we lost and we've been playing some good footy over the last few weeks but we need to be a better team, particularly at the start," Maguire said.
"(The lapses in concentration are) something we've been talking about so we need to take ownership of that and work hard at those areas, so we have to make it a hiccup."
The Rabbits will look to rebound next Friday night against another specialist home team in the Eels.