Cowboys face leadership void as injuries take heavy toll The captain’s curse
AVOID black under ladders mirrors.
That could be the advice for whoever is chosen to lead North Queensland out at Penrith on Saturday as the ‘ captain’s curse’ threatens to put a spanner in the works of their season.
With co- skippers Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott out for the year, Gavin Cooper lasted less than a minute in Friday’s home game cats, and walking broken against Melbourne before his calf gave way, while winger Antonio Winterstein also suffered a hamstring injury.
It leaves a big experience void for the sixth- placed Cowboys who have a handful of teams, including the Panthers, nipping at their heels.
Thurston missed a month with his calf injury earlier this year and like the halfback, Cooper suffered his in a non contact situation.
Five- eighth Te Maire Martin is in doubt to play a Panthers team he left just a few weeks ago after leaving the ground with his knee iced up.
Michael Morgan and Scott Bolton appear to be the major contenders to take the cap- taincy duties while Cooper is sidelined.
Bolton did the job for the first time against Canberra in round 17 when North Queensland’s State of Origin players, including Morgan, were unavailable.
Morgan has already taken on more leadership as the main playmaker with Thurston out, but said he would step up as captain if coach Paul Green takes that option.
“If they wanted me to I would, but there’s a few guys there,” he said.
“’ Bolts’ is one, Jase ( Taumalolo) is another. Those two have been great leaders on the field and I think one of those guys would handle it pretty well. Coops is a great leader and a massive talker, and everyone knows how important he is to our team as a whole.
“They ( Winterstein and Cooper) are two very experienced players on that ( left) edge.
“It’ll be a challenge again but unfortunately it’s not anything we’re not used to.”
The Cowboys’ fit Queensland players Morgan and Coen Hess will use the long turnaround to take a few days off in the lead- up to the Panthers match, which could enhance Bolton’s chances of being captain.
However Bolton suffered an elbow injury in the first half against the Storm, but managed to fight through the pain and return after the break.
Green branded his team’s effort as “unbelievably courageous” after the match and fullback Lachlan Coote is confident they will hold off the chasing pack to make finals if they maintain that commitment.
“We’ve been tested through the year with injuries and to lose another captain, what’s going on there?” he said.
“They ( Morgan and Bolton) have been outstanding for us all year ( but) I don’t know who will want the captaincy next week.”