Cowboys trio racing the clock to play in form Rabbitohs
Three North Queensland Cowboys stars are racing the clock to be fit for Saturday night's clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs with coach Paul Green once again failing to swing the axe on his underperforming side.
Jason Taumalolo, Shaun Fensom and Ben Hampton were all on modified training on Tuesday. Taumalolo is battling an ankle injury, Fensom dislocated his elbow against the Wests Tigers last round and Hampton has a shoulder complaint.
Rising 19-year-old star centre Enari Tuala has been named in an extended squad but Green has named the same 17 that lost to the Tigers.
Tuala made his NRL debut in round 24 last year and is fresh from scoring three tries for the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup on the weekend.
He could yet be a later inclusion and Green said he had done everything required to push for a spot in the 17.
"Enari certainly put his hand up with the game he played on the weekend, and that's what you want from your young guys. We've got a fair few injuries through the club at the moment too," Green said.
"It's good to have Enari in the form he is because you need those young guys snapping at their heels, and given we need to get a change of fortune sometimes you're forced to do that by picking some different players and youthful exuberance could be the way to go."
Green spoke highly of Tuala's ability to come into the side to replace players due to injury or form.
"He proved he can score a try on the weekend, which is something we need," he said.
"One thing about Enari is whatever level he plays at, he sort of rises to the occasion, which is a good sign. He doesn't get too over-awed. He'll need that if he gets his start."
Right centre Justin O'Neill is the player most likely to make way for Tuala after making five errors against the Tigers.
Despite O'Neill's poor performance Green believes the performance of any individual player is reflective of the entire team.
"When we're not playing our best there's a bit of indecision, and I think that's probably the same with Justin. Sometimes he's just not quite sure whether to go back underneath or stay on the outside and ends up sort of half doing anything," Green said.
"He came up with a couple of uncharacteristic errors, but I think there were a few of those from our more experienced guys last week which proves that... we tried a bit too hard and we've got to enjoy the contest more."