Clock ticking for crook Cowboys
JASON Taumalolo is racing the clock to prove his fitness for Saturday's clash with the Rabbitohs, as the Cowboys also sweat on the health of Shaun Fensom and Ben Hampton.
North Queensland coach Paul Green resisted the urge to make any changes to his line-up, after last week's loss to the Tigers - the club's seventh defeat in 10 rounds.
But that could change ahead of Saturday, with a number of players battling minor injuries.
Taumalolo did not train on Tuesday with an ankle problem, while Fensom (elbow) and Hampton (ankle) are also in doubt.
Co-captain Matt Scott (shoulder) also missed training, but Green is confident he will play.
However, the other three are still being assessed ahead of the South Sydney showdown.
"There's still a couple of guys carrying some injuries," Green said.
"Matt will be right. He didn't train today but Jase tweaked his ankle as well.
"I won't know until later in the week (how Taumalolo is). My gut feel is that he'll be right.
"He's a huge player for us, literally. We're coming up against a big forward pack too so we need him out there.
"Fenno obviously dislocated his elbow (against the Tigers) which can be anything from zero to four weeks. But we are talking about Shaun Fensom so he may be right this week.
"We've all seen how tough he is and he's definitely team first. But he's got to be able to do his job too, which is the most important thing.
"We'll assess him later in the week. We want to give him the chance but we'll see how he goes."
Hampton is also understood to be in doubt.
If Fensom or Taumalolo are out, the most likely forward to come into the 17 is Francis Molo, while young Northern Pride winger Enari Taula has also been added to the squad of 21.
Taula, who made his NRL debut in Round 24 last year, scored a hat-trick for the Pride on Saturday and Green said he is a chance to come into the side if injuries hamper the Cowboys.
"Enari certainly put his hand up with the game he played on the weekend," he said.
"That's what you want from your young guys. It's good to have Enari in the form he is because you need those young guys snapping at the heels.
"We need a bit of change of fortune. Sometimes you're forced to do that by picking some different players. Youthful exuberance could be the way to go.
"One thing about Enari is whatever level he plays at, he rises to the occasion. That's a good sign. He doesn't get too overawed."