Cowboys veteran Matt Scott says finals football still has the playing group's entire focus despite concerns over an ongoing player welfare dispute.
Scott's co-captain and North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston voiced concerns over negotiations between the NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association.
The negotiations centre around player welfare and revenue sharing, but Scott says while the issue is important to all players, the Cowboys will not be distracted from finals football as they head to Brisbane for Saturday night's qualifying final.
"You can separate it [on and off-field matters]. I think we've got the right people in charge and the right people talking to the NRL, and we need to let them do their job and then we can concentrate on the footy," Scott said at Townsville airport on Thursday.
"I'd love for it to be resolved; it's nearly at the end of the year.
"It's really disappointing that we couldn't get the same sort of resolution with the NRL a lot earlier. Negotiations started in March so it's nearly the end of the year and I'd hate for this issue to be overtaking the finals series."
With demand for competitive rugby league to cover more of the calendar, Scott believes the main issue hinges on player welfare.
Some requests include scrapping five-day turnarounds and a longer break at the end of the NRL season.
"I think player welfare is probably the major issue and that's really what we want taken care of. It's not about increasing the salary cap and looking after certain players in the NRL, this is about looking after the playing group as a whole," Scott said.
"It is really important with the increased demand on rugby league players at the moment – the inclusion of things like the Nines, the World Club Challenge, the decrease in interchange, just the general tempo of the game going up."
Looking ahead to Saturday, Scott says the group is optimistic about causing an upset and keeping an unbeaten finals record against their Queensland cousins.
"We are happy with where we are at as a group and I know the playing group are very confident to be able to go down there and do a job," he said.
"I think we've been building the last couple of rounds, obviously we've had a couple of losses there that were disappointing, but we are getting better in key areas like our goal-line defence.
"We still need to work on execution of plays and just get a bit better rhythm to our game."