Paul Green is unfazed by rumours he has lost his players' respect, as the Cowboys prepare to turn their season around when they host the Titans on Friday.
North Queensland crashed to their fifth loss from seven games last week against the Bulldogs and speculation is rife that a player mutiny is bubbling away behind the scenes in Townsville.
Green said he had spoken to senior players Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper and the pair insisted he had the team's full support.
Now in his sixth season in Townsville, Green was anything but surprised rumours are circulating about his apparent inability to relate to his players.
“That's what happens when you're not going so well," Green said.
"Other coaches have had their turn this year."
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Green said he was heartened by skipper Morgan and veteran forward Cooper seeking him out to reassure him that he had their unconditional support.
“It just confirms what you already thought, but it's good particularly when we're under pressure," Green said.
"When you are under pressure as a club and as a team you've got to stick together to get yourself out of it, so I'm really proud of that."
Cooper believes Green hasn't changed from previous years and the rumours are unfair as much as they are unfounded.
"It caught us off guard," Cooper said.
"These things come up when teams aren't doing as well as expected. If we were winning games this wouldn’t be a story to start with.
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"If we get a good win on the weekend, a good consistent performance, this sort of stuff will hopefully go away.”
Morgan denied suggestions Green's methods had worn thin at the Cowboys and that players were tuning out.
"I can say that Greenie has my full support as our coach and he always has," Morgan said.
"He definitely hasn’t [lost respect]. Externally people look for reasons but you can take it from me, it's definitely not true. It hasn't been an ideal start to the season and no one is happy about it."
When the players were told of the rumours, Morgan said the leadership group got together and took it upon themselves to put the speculation to bed.
“We spoke about it. We weren't sure where it had come from or where the idea of it came about, but we're all on the same page with it," he said.
"I had a quick chat with him [Green] and said that we were disappointed that it had been said and let him know that it's definitely not true.
“It's disappointing and I feel bad that it gets said because I have a very good relationship with Greenie. I'd hate for him to think that we don't respect him as the coach because that's definitely not the case."
Asked if the team could use the rumours as motivation leading into Friday night’s clash against the Titans, Morgan said “Yeah, maybe we would.
“Hopefully we can go out, have a good win and when teams are winning these things don't get spoken about.
“No one likes to be losing and you’re constantly looking for reasons why. When teams are travelling well you don’t look as much into it as to why you're going well, whereas when you're losing you look at absolutely everything.
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“It's not how we wanted our season to start but we continue to work hard and stick together and stay tight as a group."
Morgan said he could put it down to “a few things” as to why the club’s season start has gone so wrong.
“Greenie mentioned the other day that five of the seven games, we’ve been drawn at half-time or leading," he said.
"The only time we probably put a whole good 80 minutes together was against the Warriors and that's disappointing."
Star back-rower Jason Taumalolo has been named on an extended bench again but is no certainty to return from a knee injury.
Morgan said if Taumalolo plays “he’ll make a big difference”.
"We do have a very good forward pack and they've been doing their best to get us down the field. He [Taumololo] will definitely add to it," he said.
"He's got footwork, can pass, create line breaks and there's opportunities around him off the back of his carries.”
Taumololo has to prove he’s ready by getting through a full week of training.
“He's got the knee strapped, he got through the session pretty well," Green said.
"We've been playing without him, so I'm not going to risk him to bring him back a week earlier, and risk him being out for the rest of the year, but he would be a huge boost.
"We're not going to take any silly risks with a guy like Jase."
Jordan Kahu will again play fullback in Te Maire Martin's absence and Green expects the former Bronco to acquit himself well.
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“He's got a handful of games under his belt now and I think he's probably moving better, understands the team better and hopefully he’ll be on the ball a little bit more," he said.
Ex-Bronco Tom Opacic comes back into the team after Green wanted him to work on a few things.
The 24-year-old centre worked hard to earn a recall.
“He's been really consistent back there [in Intrust Super Cup]. He's been one of the Blackhawks' best," Green said.
"He got a chance earlier and has gone back and improved and played well which is what you want."