Cowboys coach Paul Green has left the door open to resting his battle-weary State of Origin stars when North Queensland face Manly in Townsville on Monday night.
Green has named his five Origin representatives for the match but concedes his decision on whether to play them just days after a taxing Origin encounter is "about the whole bigger picture".
Monday night's game is essentially a five-day turnaround for Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou, Michael Morgan and Justin O'Neill, and Green says those extra days actually make the task of backing up that much harder.
"The longer it goes [until the next game after Origin], the harder it is to back up," Green said.
"After and Origin game, unless you are injured of course, it's easier to back up in a shorter timeframe.
"It will be a factor that we take into consideration when we work out exactly who's running out on Monday."
The Sea Eagles' season has failed to hit any real high point to date, with their current six-game losing run – beginning with a home loss to North Queensland – their worst period of the season.
But while they sit 14th on the ladder, Manly has sprung a couple of surprise wins this season against the table-topping Sharks and against the Warriors in New Zealand.
With a Cowboys bye following Origin III still up his sleeve, Green has options.
"I'm always mindful of seeing how [the players] are, it's not just about how they are physically but obviously mentally and emotionally as well because those games do take a fair bit out them," he said.
"It's a long season, we are only just past the halfway point so there's plenty of footy to go and for us it's about making sure we are at our best at the end of the season.
"That will be taken into consideration in whatever decisions we do make. But we all need to talk about it, everyone is part of that decision-making process.
"It's not just about being able to back up it's about that whole bigger picture and making sure we are right at the back end of the year, and that we are peaking when it matters most."
The Cowboys' run home is a mixed bag, with five of their 10 remaining games against teams currently residing in the top eight (Bulldogs twice, Raiders, Storm, Titans), with three of those games to be played at home.