North Queensland lock Jason Taumalolo is hopeful both Cowboys co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott will feature against the Melbourne Storm in their qualifying final on Saturday night.
Taumalolo did the honours for the Cowboys at the NRL Telstra Premiership finals launch at Allianz Stadium on Monday morning in place of Thurston and Scott.
Thurston corked his leg in the Cowboys' big win against the Titans in Round 26 while Scott missed the game completely due to a broken finger.
Taumalolo was as coy as coach Paul Green was over the weekend regarding Scott's health but was confident Thurston would play.
Scott has already overcome back and neck surgeries in recent seasons, with Taumalolo labelling the Queensland and Australian veteran prop as a "battler".
"It's nothing different to what he does on the field. To have him out there alongside us would be a huge confidence boost for us," Taumalolo said.
"He's an inspiration for us younger forwards. We feed off the things he does. He's either pulling off shots or carrying three or four blokes on his back. Hopefully having him around will make our jobs a lot easier.
"Fingers crossed (Scott) can turn up on Saturday night. It'll be a big battle in the middle come Saturday night with the Storm boys being the benchmark of the competition obviously," he added.
"With Cameron Smith leading them around the park, they have the best forward pack in the comp."
The Storm have beaten the Cowboys twice already this season with their upcoming clash remaining the most anticipated in week one of the finals.
With minor premiers Melbourne looking to topple the reigning premiers North Queensland, Taumalolo said the Cowboys take some confidence out of the fact they eliminated the Storm in the preliminary finals last year.
"They're just relentless. They're a lot better team then what they were last year when we beat them in the finals," Taumalolo said.
"They will definitely have that in mind that they have beaten us twice this season too. They have the team to [win the whole premiership] so it makes for a great game on Saturday night.
"They are the benchmarks in the NRL and playing them down in Melbourne is a hard enough task as it is for any team. The intensity will be crazy."
Taumalolo was hopeful of lifting the Provan-Summons trophy once again come the first weekend of October.
"We have the monkey off our back now. Some of the boys were saying it's as good as having your first child. I haven't known what that feels like yet. But I definitely want to be there in October," Taumalolo said.
"It's a new ball game now though and we'll be put in some dark places throughout the finals series. In Melbourne, it'll be our hardest game of the season."
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