Without the club's four Origin stars there to guide them along, North Queensland fullback Lachlan Coote confirmed his place as a leader of the club in the Cowboys' 8-0 Telstra Premiership win over Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
While he is yet to rack up double digits in appearances wearing Cowboys colours, with his first year at the club spent in the rehab group battling a ruptured ACL, Coote took it upon himself to steer the Cowboys to a record-breaking eight-straight wins.
"I've been around for a while now. This is my eighth season [in the NRL]. I consider myself a senior player and it's about time I step up and take that role. With [our Origin representatives] being out, I'm in a key position to do that sort of job and I figured I had to step up tonight," Coote said.
"I've been around the team for almost a year and a half now. It's like a family up there. I'm very happy to be a part of the boys now and playing alongside them. This year I'm making the most of just playing footy and I'm happy to be out there."
Playing in his usual position of fullback, Coote ended up becoming the chief playmaker for coach Paul Green's men by chipping in with the kicking duties – with usual hookers Rory Kostjasyn and Ray Thompson doing their best in the halves – as well as maintaining his outstanding positional play out the back.
Running for 264 metres and breaking through five tackles, Coote managed to also keep the Tigers on the back foot by kicking for 482 metres.
The benefits of the pre-season competition between Coote and Michael Morgan, sharing their time between fullback and five-eighth over the summer months, has worked wonders with the latter currently in camp with the Maroons.
"I've been slotting in as [a last tackle option] every now and again when [Johnathan Thurston's] around. Being that left foot option, I think it's always good," Coote said.
"I just took more of a role on tonight without JT being there and controlling the sets. I stepped up. I've been working on it a lot and I feel like I've still got a lot to work on."
In what was otherwise a dour game between two teams greatly affected by the nature of the Origin period, Coote credited a simpler game-plan for the Cowboys' win.
The importance of sealing the two competition points, despite being so depleted, was not lost on Coote either.
"It's a massive win for us. Without those Origin players, it feels like one of the best wins," he said.
"To be able to keep a team like [the Tigers] to zero is even better. We can just keep building on that, and our defence. Winning eight in a row, hopefully we can continue the roll on."