D-day has arrived for injured North Queensland lock Jason Taumalolo as he attempts to prove his fitness for Friday’s NRL clash with the Warriors.
But playmaker Scott Drinkwater has suggested the Cowboys will not be losing any sleep if Taumalolo is again sidelined, insisting they do not rely as heavily on the rampaging forward as many think.
North Queensland coach Paul Green is on Thursday expected to make a final call on whether the Tonga international will play, after he missed last round’s loss to Cronulla with bone bruising of the knee.
Taumalolo – who is averaging 272m in his three games this season to date – would be welcomed back by the Cowboys after they lacked punch in their error-riddled display against the Sharks.
Statistics indicate Taumalolo is key to their success, with the Cowboys winning just two out of their past 10 games without the powerhouse No.13.
But Drinkwater dismissed the suggestion North Queensland are a one-man band.
“It’s no secret Jase has a big impact through the middle, but our other forwards do a tremendous job,” he told Fox League’s NRL Tonight.
“We made 17 errors (against Cronulla). We made it hard for ourselves and we still had a chance to win that game.
“Jase’s 300m a game does help us but I don’t think we rely on him as much as the outside world thinks we do.”
The Cowboys pack has been bolstered by the return of Coen Hess (ankle) while Mitch Dunn has recovered from a head knock suffered against the Sharks.
Whether or not Taumalolo gets the green light, North Queensland will have a new look against the Warriors.
In the wake of their last-round home defeat, Green cut hooker Jake Granville along with winger Ben Hampton who has been replaced by exciting debutant Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.
The teenager has been described as the NRL’s fastest player after impressing at the Cowboys’ Nines triumph in February.
“Everyone was pretty pumped for him,” Drinkwater said. “We know that at the Nines he killed it … but in saying that, 13-a-side is a different game.
“We are not expecting too much out of him. We know everyone who makes their debut gets targeted a bit (so) we will rally around him.
“But I hope to see him out in open space.”