The North Queensland Cowboys have a perfect opportunity to press their claims for a top four berth when they clash with the second placed Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium this weekend.
The Roosters are without stars Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner, while the Cowboys have had an unsettled build-up with tackling-machine Shaun Fensom rested from training due to a rib-cartilage injury, while stalwart front-rower Scott Bolton has missed training due to sickness.
Forward John Asiata is expecting Fensom to play, and the back-rower's toughness is somewhat legendary, having unknowingly broken his arm in training while at the Canberra Raiders only to turn up to a weights session the next day.
"[Rib cartilage] is something that's pretty sore when you go into contact but [Fensom] is a very experienced player so he'll know," Asiata said.
Asiata is also hopeful that Bolton, undoubtedly the leader of the Cowboys forwards this year, will recover from his illness in time to play in Sydney.
"He's taken a big role since Matt Scott's been missing, he's been a very big voice for us younger forwards in the middle. He's been a very good leader on and off the field. All the one per cents that we do as a team, he's been leading the way there," he said.
Despite the absent players from the Roosters' pack, new Cowboys five-eighth Te Maire Martin isn't expecting an easy game, after going down against them by two points earlier in the year when he was playing for the Penrith Panthers.
"I learned that Cordner was pretty hard to tackle, he was the backrower on my side so I had a bit of work to do there. I think I made thirty-something tackles that game. They definitely like to get into halves and it's a good challenge and I look forward to it," Martin said.
"Their forwards really get their front foot going. They play off momentum and when you've got halves like that they link up well together and just go from there."