Scott, Winterstein in doubt for Cowboys
The North Queensland Cowboys have two players in doubt ahead of Saturday night's Round 1 Telstra Premiership clash against the Canberra Raiders.
Winger Antonio Winterstein seems unlikely to play with an ankle injury, and while co-captain Matt Scott was admitted to hospital on Tuesday with an infected leg, coach Paul Green told the media that he trained today.
"He got through the session so we'll just make sure he pulls up alright, he was certainly a bit flat this morning. So we'll just make sure he pulls up alright tomorrow," he said.
Green added that Scott is, "probably a little bit more than 50-50, he's a pretty tough sort of guy, he likes playing."
"All he's got to do is his job. He's an old professional, 'Thumper', he's been around for a long time, he's played a lot of high level footy so he knows what's required to get himself ready to play."
Green noted that the Australian prop would be especially important against the Raiders in what will be either a humid or wet night in Townsville, based on weather reports.
"They're a huge pack and they play a pretty physical style of game too so he's pretty important for us," Green said.
Winterstein is still in doubt to play, having only resumed individual training to recover from a sprained ankle.
"He trained this morning... we'll give him right up to [the game], but he's probably in even more doubt I would say at this stage," Green said.
Green has chosen a defensively orientated side in order to counter the Raiders with Javid Bowen being the likely replacement for Winterstein's wing position. Young stars Kayln Ponga and Gideon Gela-Mosby were released from the Cowboys' initial 21-man squad named on Tuesday.
"That's their stronger side with Ropana and Leilua, so we need to be physical down that side of the field. They'll test you, they test everyone," Green said.
"They play off the back of some quick play-the-balls so we need to tackle really well. They're a big physical side so that's easier said than done."
Cowboys hooker Jake Granville said that he's confident in the forwards available, and that they would need to be strong defensively to neutralise the Raiders pack.
"We've got a couple of other good fellas that run the ball, with Jason Taumalolo and Scott Bolton and a couple of lads off the bench. We've just got to aim up in defence first and build our game off that," Granville said.
Controlling the play-the-ball will also help the Cowboys prevent Granville's opposite number Josh Hodgson from carving them up through the middle out of dummy-half.
"He's really crafty around the ruck and he'll take advantage of any quick play-the-balls so he'll definitely be one to watch." Granville said of his opposite number.