With North Queensland star halfback Johnathan Thurston going down with a calf injury late in their Round 6 Telstra Premiership loss to the Wests Tigers, Cowboys coach Paul Green has a serious problem.
Regular fullback Lachlan Coote missed the match against Wests Tigers with a calf injury of his own and hooker Jake Granville is out for up to six weeks with a broken leg. Utility Ben Hampton deputised at hooker on Saturday night, but may now be needed in the halves.
Key prop and co-captain Matt Scott is also out for the season with an ACL injury, centre Justin O'Neill is out indefinitely with a knee injury, and winger Antonio Winterstein is expected to miss a few more weeks with a broken arm.
The problems caused by Granville and Coote's absences were evident against the Tigers, as the Cowboys lacked fluency in attack and power in defence. Five-eighth Michael Morgan spoke about stepping up to replace Thurston if he is out injured for a long period of time.
"I've had to try and fill in for him before in the past, it's not an easy thing to do," Morgan said.
"I don't play the same sort of role that he does within our team at the moment so if I have to change a bit of what I have to do normally, then for the team I'm happy to do that.
"Across the park guys will need to be really clear with their role, and he's obviously a good talker and good director out on the field so if I can help in that way then I can help the team."
Morgan spoke about the difficulty of replacing Thurston at half, and was unsure of how the team could be adjusted to cover for the co-captain.
"I'm not too sure what way they'll go if he is out," he said.
"Fingers crossed he's okay, we're hoping he is because we've had a few injuries obviously and another one to him wouldn't help.
"What they'll do with the team I'm not too sure, we didn't really talk about that after the game we were more about what just happened out there."
While the extent of Thurston's injury won't be known until he has scans, the halfback is renowned for his toughness, so it's a worrying sign for the Cowboys that he left the field with his side trying to chase down the Tigers.
"Early signs aren't good… he normally does play on through pain, fingers crossed he's okay but if he's not, he's not and we'll deal with it and try and move on," Morgan said.
The Cowboys now face a trip to Wollongong in Round 7 to face the in-form St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday night.
This article first appeared on NRL.com