Cowboys forward Ben Hannant charges at the Sharks defence in Round 1 of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership.

Cowboys' incredible depth

The Cowboys have made a habit of adequately covering for missing talent this season, with back-up prop Ben Hannant's return this week another example, after co-captain Matt Scott was officially ruled out of the Titans clash.

Reports of Scott having fractured a finger had been circling since the weekend, and the news was confirmed on Tuesday by coach Paul Green.

 

While the loss of Scott is significant coming up against a Titans pack playing a do-or-die game, the silver linings of fresh legs come the finals and a deep squad with plenty of competition for spots ensures the Cowboys are not just in a good position this week, but also in their premiership defence.

"[Scott's injury] is more beneficial to guys like 'Fuse' [Patrick Kaufusi] and 'Hessy' [Coen Hess]. They're the guys who have sort of come in late so they will keep their spot," Green said.

"And it's important for Benny [Hannant] to get a game under his belt before finals.

"I think there's healthy competition between all of our players. It's healthy, it's good for the team, it keeps everyone on their toes and I think they all need to know they need to be in form to make the team, which is a good thing to have."

The third bench forward spot appears to be a race in two between youngsters Coen Hess and Patrick Kaufusi, as John Asiata finds himself without a game this weekend.

Last weekend was the final round of Intrust Super Cup competition and Asiata's team, the Mackay Cutters, finished wooden spooners

While Green said two weeks ago that Asiata's demotion was centred around 'match fitness', his omission from Tuesday's first-grade team has potentially sealed his fate for the remainder of the season.

Green is generally happy with how his side is situated coming into finals.

"There are probably not too many players that fall into that [rest] category at this stage," he said when asked if any of his men need some time off before Week One of the finals.

"We want to make sure that we get a good game under our belt coming into finals. There are not too many blokes who needed a rest that haven't had one at this stage.

"We want to be going into finals with a good game under our belt. I thought the Bulldogs game was good for us last week and another good, tough game [this week] will be good."

Green was also quick to heap praise on one of their most in-form players Scott Bolton, ahead of another tough assignment on Saturday.

Perhaps the side's second best forward at present, Bolton was named as a starter in place of Scott as the Cowboys look to sew up a top-four finish.

"When you do lose a player like [Scott] – he's one of our captains – everyone else needs to contribute more than they normally would," Green said.

"The night [Bolton] started instead of Matt Scott he got Man of the Match, so they're the type of efforts or performances that we need from those guys.

"Hopefully that's the case again."