Cowboys sweat on DCE's health
The Cowboys have reached an impasse with the news of Daly Cherry-Evans' injured elbow potentially ruling him out of the Queensland Maroons side for the first game of State of Origin.
North Queensland five-eighth Michael Morgan has been called into the Queensland squad as cover for the Manly halfback, with coach Paul Green naming his young star in the No.6 jersey for Saturday's clash with Wests Tigers at Campbelltown.
Queensland will make a decision on Cherry-Evans on Wednesday.
But it has stalled preparations for an already bare-bones Cowboys side missing stars Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou to Origin, along with big names Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton, Tautau Moga and now Thurston's replacement, Robert Lui – who will sit out 3-4 weeks with a grade two hamstring strain suffered in the early stages of the Townsville Blackhawks' 28-0 win in the Intrust Super Cup on Sunday.
With Morgan boarding a plane to Brisbane this week, it could leave a gaping hole in the North Queensland halves.
But as a contingency for Morgan's departure, Green has some cards up his sleeve in versatile fullback Lachlan Coote who spent two years in the halves for Penrith.
Matthew Wright has also spent time at fullback, with options for his cover including the likes of Kyle Feldt and Javid Bowen.
"There are a lot of different combinations and it just depends on what sort of game I think we need to play given who's there so I'm not going to go too far down the track from that respect," Green said Tuesday afternoon.
"Bringing Ray into the halves, he's played plenty of time there for us over the past and both our edge back-rowers are there. So there are some key combinations there that won't change, we just need our big blokes to stand up against the Wests Tigers pack, which I'm sure they will."
Despite Green not yet naming a captain for his injury-ravaged side, he has three veterans circled to go above and beyond this week.
"[Gavin Cooper] is the logical choice [for captaincy] given that he's in our leadership group and the position he plays in our team," Green said.
"'Hally' [Glenn Hall] has 190 plus NRL games so that's why I've added him to the bench, I think he will be a good steadying influence for us.
"'Benny [Hannant], we all know what experience he's had.
"I know one of his goals was Origin and given that [the Maroons] have stuck loyal with the guys in the past so Benny probably has a point to prove."
Hannant will partner Rockhampton product Sam Hoare, who makes his first NRL start after a return game last week from a month-long calf injury.
"He's good, Sam. I thought he did a good job [against the Broncos]. Having that run last week will certainly help him, particularly match fitness-wise so we were kind of lucky to get that run under the belt before this week," Green said.
"[Depth] is certainly being tested at the moment but I think we're pretty well placed actually," Green said.
"Given that most of the guys that are underneath have had some NRL experience but, more importantly they are all in very good form for their teams in the Intrust Super Cup so we are pretty lucky at the moment."