North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston has been ruled out of Friday's NRL clash with Parramatta, putting him in doubt for next week's Kangaroos Test against New Zealand.
Thurston has missed the Cowboys' past two matches with a calf injury but was considered a chance to play against the Eels.
After being named on an extended bench during the week, he was cut before kick off with John Asiata to again deputise in the halves, alongside Michael Morgan.
Thurston's absence could create a standoff between club and country after Cowboys coach Paul Green hinted at blocking the 34-year-old from the Test match in Canberra should he miss the NRL round nine encounter.
Asked on Thursday if Thurston had the club's blessing to play in the Test if he didn't turn out against the Eels, Green said: "We'll talk about that after but probably not. We'll have to wait and see what happens."
Coach Mal Meninga said, earlier this week, that Thurston could still turn out for Australia even if he didn't play for the Cowboys, and would go through medical tests.
"(Thurston) doesn't have to play that game on the weekend. He's a pretty experienced player," Meninga said.
"Knowing John, he'll want to play in the Test match, if fully fit.
"He'll come into camp and through our protocols, he'll go through a medical and we'll make some decisions around him on the Sunday."
Cronulla playmaker James Maloney is on standby should Thurston be ruled out of the Test.