North Queensland appear set to roll the dice on some of their biggest stars with their NRL finals hopes on the line against Wests Tigers.
Heading into Saturday’s clash at Campbelltown Stadium, the injury-ravaged Cowboys have lost four straight to be holding onto the edge of the top eight by their fingernails.
Lachlan Coote (ankle), Gavin Cooper (calf), Antonio Winterstein (hamstring), Shaun Fensom (knee) and John Asiata (elbow) are all touch-and-go however travelled as part of a 20-man squad to Sydney on Thursday.
With the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Justin O’Neill and Kalyn Ponga out, the Cowboys are getting desperate.
Green was keeping his cards close to his chest, failing to reveal how many of their injured contingent would take the field.
However he admitted if the club’s casualty ward wasn’t overflowing and their top-eight aspirations weren’t on the line, he would take a more cautious approach.
“This is probably the time of the year when you need to (take risks) given where we are and the situations we’re in,” Green said.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are hoping to continue ruffling feathers in the back end of the season as coach Ivan Cleary admitted their recruitment and retention saga had taken a toll in 2017.
The club was disrupted by the mid-season departure of Mitchell Moses and their failure to retain Aaron Woods and James Tedesco.
Woods and Tedesco will play their final home match at Campbelltown on Saturday.
Amid a disastrous season in which they rank 15th and remain in contention for the wooden spoon, the Tigers can see some upside.
Over the past five weeks they’ve pushed Penrith, Parramatta and Sydney Roosters and beaten Manly.
“We’ve just been a bit more settled,” Cleary said.
“There was a fair bit going on around here. Once we got a few things sorted out in terms of recruitment and retention and you guys (the media) weren’t turning up every day, it settled things down and it’s shown on the field.”
The Tigers will blood rookie back-rower Bayley Sironen – the son of Balmain great Paul Sironen – against the Cowboys.
STATS THAT MATTER
*If the Tigers lose against the Cowboys it will be the first time in the joint venture’s history that they have failed to win a game at Campbelltown in a season.
* Three of the Tigers’ six wins this season have come in the past seven matches.