Even a potential season-ending knee injury to Test prop Matt Scott, or the threat of losing wrecking ball back-rower Jason Taumalolo to a possible suspension, could not wipe the smile off North Queensland coach Paul Green’s face after his team’s latest NRL derby epic against Brisbane.
Green admitted the Cowboys paid a heavy price for their thrilling 21-20 golden-point win over the Broncos at Lang Park on Friday night.
Besides Scott, winger Antonio Winterstein (broken arm) lasted just 13 minutes, full-back Lachlan Coote (calf) is also in trouble and they are sweating on Taumalolo after the Dally M Medallist’s 26th-minute hit on Brisbane’s Alex Glenn.
But Green believed it was worth it.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” Green said. “The resilience, the character, the team spirit they showed — I don’t think I have ever been involved in a tougher win.
“You don’t have a performance like that unless you care about your team-mates or your jersey.
“I know it has come at a cost but we made a real big statement as a team.”
Green said they would know more on Scott by Monday.
“Until we have scans we won’t be able to confirm that but he definitely has a knee issue,” he said.
The other JT the hero
Taumalolo’s heroics against the Cowboys somewhat eased headaches over Scott’s future.
Backing up from his 289m effort in round one, Taumalolo bashed out another 231m and made 37 tackles but his best efforts could not be measured on a stats sheet.
Taumalolo was at his inspirational best when he somehow sprinted off the line to charge down Brisbane pivot Anthony Milford’s potentially match-winning field goal attempt in extra-time.
Johnathan Thurston credited the Kiwi international with helping him set up his 88th-minute, 30-metre field goal.
“He had two carries that set. I got him to go again to get me a quick play the ball (ahead of the field goal),” Thurston said.
“He just keeps producing, that kid. He is one hell of a talent.”
Green was confident Taumalolo could pick up where he left off next week despite expecting to come under scrutiny for his hit.
“I didn’t think there was much in it,” he said.
North Queensland will keep their fingers crossed Taumalolo escapes scrutiny after Green was left in awe of the lock’s Friday night heroics.
“To go 40 minutes straight in the first half for the second week is remarkable — he’s an unbelievable athlete,” Green said.
“To get the quality of work he can maintain is impressive.”
Asked the secret to Taumalolo’s consistency, Green said: “It’s not just the training, it’s him buying into the culture of what we are about. He’s definitely done that.”