Bolton injury compounds Scott ban for depleted Cowboys
North Queensland's season has gone from bad to worse and their chances of reversing that trend have suffered a similar fate with Scott Bolton joining Matt Scott on the sidelines for Thursday night's trip to Manly.
With their season hanging in the balance, the Cowboys have come up against the worst-case scenario going into their game against the Sea Eagles with Scott suspended by the judiciary and Bolton ruled unable to play due to a rib cartilage injury.
They were already without Maroons representatives Coen Hess, Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper.
A host of younger players which will include at least one debutant in second-rower Mitchell Dunn as well as fellow forward Sam Hoare will take the field, and Cowboys fans will be hoping that youth trumps experience in Sydney.
Assistant coach David Fairleigh is excited to see some young players get their chance.
"[Bolton] has a pretty serious rib cartilage injury, given the nature of that it's more than likely he won't play," Fairleigh said.
"[Dunn] has been going really well with our feeder clubs and we have no hesitation in bringing him in.
"It's bad to lose a guy with experience, but it creates opportunity for young guys coming through and Dunn did the whole pre-season with us and I've got high hopes for him. Hopefully he puts in a good showing tomorrow night."
Kane Linnett may be as an option to play in the back row instead of his usual centre position as he makes his return from a lengthy stint on the sidelines.
"We've still got to decide on [who will play], Sam Hoare is coming into the team, we'll work that out, probably today, but we've got all the confidence in anyone that comes into our team," Fairleigh said.
"It's good to have Kane back, he's worked really hard on the pec injury, it's good timing for us too given it's around Origin.
"He can cover second row and centre obviously, so I'm sure Johnathan (Thurston) is looking forward to having Kane back as well."
Fairleigh wants his young players to be braced for a trial by fire against a Manly team led by Daly Cherry-Evans with a point to prove about his omission from the Queensland State of Origin side.
"[Cherry-Evans] is a quality player, he's a big part of what they do and gets them around the park a fair bit," he said.