Winger’s wait­ing game

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRENT SLATTER trent. slatter@ news. com. au

THE Cow­boys will give hardrun­ning winger An­to­nio Win­ter­stein every chance to prove his fit­ness as they pre­pare to host the New Zealand War­riors at 1300SMILES Sta­dium on Satur­day.

Win­ter­stein suf­fered a calf in­jury in North Queens­land’s win over Souths on Sun­day and failed to re­turn in the sec­ond half.

Coach Paul Green in­sisted that was more of a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure af­ter scan re­sults cleared him of se­ri­ous in­jury, but the Cow­boys could be for­given if they were spooked by Win­ter­stein’s in­jury.

North Queens­land has en­dured a tor­rid sea­son with in­jury, in­clud­ing when full­back Lach­lan Coote re­turned early from a calf com­plaint in Round 5 only to re- ag­gra­vate it and miss another month.

Javid Bowen and Ka­lyn Ponga are on standby for the in­jured winger this week­end, but Green said he had com­plete trust in the club’s med­i­cal staff to make the right call on Win­ter­stein’s fit­ness.

“There’s def­i­nitely some­thing there, but it’s not too bad so we’ll just mon­i­tor how he goes through the week and then make a de­ci­sion,” Green said.

“They ( med­i­cal staff) weren’t that con­cerned from the out­set. It was more if we left him out there then you do run that risk of do­ing some­thing far more sig­nif­i­cant and then he would be out for an ex­tended pe­riod.

“We’re still hope­ful he’ll be right for this week­end. Our med­i­cal staff are very ex­pe­ri­enced so we’ve got full confi- dence they’ll make the de­ci­sion.”

Props Scott Bolton ( ster­num) and John Asi­ata ( knee) both picked up mi­nor nig­gles against Souths, but they will be fit to play this week­end with Green nam­ing an un­changed 17 to face the War­riors.

The in­jury news isn’t so good for the vis­i­tors who will be with­out star half­back Shaun John­son af­ter scans con­firmed he has a torn PCL and will miss up to eight weeks.

The War­riors are still bat­tling to make the fi­nals from 11th, but they have a poor record with­out John­son and failed to win a game over the last eight rounds in 2015 af­ter los­ing their play­maker to a sea­son- end­ing an­kle in­jury.

The Cow­boys have al­ready had a cou­ple of lapses at home this sea­son against sides bat­tling off- field dra­mas, but Green was adamant they won’t fo­cus too much on New Zealand’s in­jury woes.

“If we worry about our op­po­si­tion too much then any game is a dan­ger game,” Green said. “The dan­ger games are al­ways when you’re com­ing off a bye and blokes can still be a little bit on hol­i­days, but I thought we got through that pretty well on the week­end.

“We’ve had some con­sis­tency re­cently so for us it’s about mak­ing sure we keep im­prov­ing in those ar­eas and I’m con­fi­dent we can do that.”

Cow­boys NRL squad: 1 Lach­lan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Lin­nett, 5 An­to­nio Win­ter­stein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Michael Mor­gan, 8 John Asi­ata, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper ( c), 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Tau­malolo, 14 Ben Hamp­ton, 15 Coen Hess, 16 Shaun Fen­som, 17 Corey Jensen, 18 Braden Uele, 19 Kyle Lay­butt, 20 Ka­lyn Ponga, 21 Javid Bowen. right

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