North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green has made a shock selection call, naming co-captain Matt Scott on an extended bench seven months after the Australia representative front-rower injured his ACL.
It's an impressive recovery given Scott wasn't expected to begin training until December, and he could be a huge inclusion for the Cowboys with several players – including Coen Hess and Antonio Winterstein – under injury clouds.
Winterstein is understood to have a problem with his rib cartilage, while Hess left the field on a heavily strapped knee last week against the Parramatta Eels.
Besides the surprise inclusion of Scott in jersey 21 Green has named the same 17 that defeated the Eels last weekend.
"If everyone gets through the week he won't play, but he's worked really hard through the year since his injury to put himself in the frame," Green said of Scott.
"I think he wanted me to name him and given he's one of our captains and he's worked as hard as he has I think I at least owe him that, but as long as everyone gets through training I don't expect that there would be a change."
Scott's return will be contingent on the strength of his knee as well as the rest of the team being fully fit, but Green is confident that if Scott is needed he will be ready to step up.
Despite the international forward's availability to play Green is backing the remarkably tough 17 players to get the job done again.
"They're the guys that have done the job for us and he's completely comfortable with that," he said.
"[Scott] is at seven months, there's guys that have [come back from an ACL and] played AFL and league earlier than that so it's not outside of the realms of possibility that he plays, but I'm not intending to play him this week as long as the team gets through, everyone that's there has been doing a great job.
"But when one of your captains has worked as hard as he has to get himself to where he is now and comes to you and wants to get named, and it is an extended bench too, so it's 21, I think I owe him at least that."