Winger’s waiting game
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