Cowboys boosted by Tamou return
North Queensland have received a much-needed boost to their forward stocks with representative front-rower James Tamou named as a starter against the Titans this week.
Tamou's well-timed return will provide some added grunt to a forward pack that has been outpointed in three of its past four games.
The Cowboys' worst fears were realised when the New South Wales enforcer had to been taken off on a medicab at Mt Smart Stadium a little more than a week ago, but Tamou has since made a significant recovery and should return to regular minutes this weekend.
"It's good to have him back. He's feeling pretty good and his scans are all clear – he got the clearance from his specialist. There's no reason why he's not [ready for regular minutes]," coach Paul Green said on Tuesday.
"The operation in the pre-season when he got hurt he was probably a bit more cautious than normal, so he followed due process, he got scans, they came up clear.
"No new damage, and his power and his strength is normal and it's symmetrical with both sides of his body so he's ready to go."
If Tamou's potential career-threatening neck problem last year wasn't enough to sound warning bells, the second instance in Auckland would have rang louder than Big Ben.
While Tamou's improved impact on games was enough to earn State of Origin honours this year, his technique and approach to contact needs to be modified as a safety measure.
"He's probably got to change his running style and how he goes into a collision, probably just to protect himself a bit," Green said.
"He was one of the guys coming out of the Origin period that had a fairly big residual load compared to the rest of the playing group. If we take a silver lining [from the injury], that's it."
Meanwhile, Round 24's other major casualty, five-eighth Michael Morgan, is showing good signs in recovering from a high ankle sprain which typically keeps players out for a minimum of four weeks.
But Morgan is already pounding the pavement desperate to be back for finals action.
"He's going along well. It's a day-to-day proposition with 'Morgo'," Green said.
"I think he's done a little bit of running on the altitude treadmill. We won't be taking any unnecessary risks with him.
In other team news, utility Rory Kostjasyn has been named while yet to pass concussion protocols after leaving the field early in the second half, and Ray Thompson and Kyle Feldt both retained their spots in the side.
"[Thompson] should feel a bit more comfortable in the team. A bit more familiarity and hopefully that will mean a better performance for him, not that he was poor at all last week," Green said.