North Queensland Cowboys can still challenge in NRL finals, says Paul Green
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PAUL Green has declared North Queensland can make an impact in the finals as the Cowboys cavalry prepares to return to inspire the club’s brave charge to the playoffs.

Key premiership-winning triumvirate Gavin Cooper, Lachlan Coote and Antonio Winterstein have been named in the Cowboys’ squad for Friday night’s crucial clash against Wests Tigers in Sydney.

Winterstein (hamstring) returns on the wing, while Maroons back-rower Cooper and classy custodian Coote are in the extended squad and hope to prove their fitness at Thursday’s captain’s run.

Despite crashing to their fourth consecutive loss last week against Cronulla, the Cowboys moved from eighth to seventh by virtue of Manly’s dismal 30-16 capitulation against the Bulldogs.

The Cowboys can seal a playoffs berth by disposing of the Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium — and coach Green is adamant his troops can overcome a shocking injury toll to be finals giant-killers.

“We have plans to go deep into the finals,” Green said. “Everyone needs to have that attitude through the club.

“If we were to take on the attitude that the world is against us with injuries and we’re no chance, then we’ll be no chance.

“But we’ve shown we can still compete with the best teams and it’s important we maintain that.

“That’s the expected standard if you want to wear the Cowboys jersey, it’s important everyone is thinking like that. That’s why morale is still high.

“It’s not a great feeling (the injury toll decimating their full-time squad), but the boys have turned up every day trying to work harder and get better.

“If we keep competing, it can turn for us.”

The Cowboys received a further boost with utility John Asiata cleared of a serious elbow injury to face the Tigers, who were gallant in their 22-18 loss to the Roosters last week.

Meanwhile, Broncos young gun Jaydn Su’A will continue his development when he replaces Tevita Pangai Junior (hamstring) on the bench for Thursday night’s clash against the Eels.

A classy back-rower, the 19-year-old plays his eighth top-grade game against a Parramatta side that could move into the top four by upsetting the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

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