Cooper, Winterstein out
COWBOYS pair Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein are expected to miss at least two games following Friday night’s horror show of f injuries.
Cooper ( calf) and Winter- stein ( hamstring) have been ruled out of this weekend’s crucial away game against Penrith and are almost certain to miss the following home game against premiers Cronulla, says Cowboys coach Paul Green.
The news is better for fiveeighth Te Maire Martin ( pictured) who has been named to play despite suffering a knock to the knee in Friday’s loss to the Storm.
Michael Morgan has assumed the captaincy reins as a result of Cooper’s injury, his first stint as NRL captain and a possible glimpse of Morgan’s future leadership role.
“Best case scenario is a couple of weeks,” Green said of Cooper and Winterstein.
“We’ll see how the next couple of weeks pan out, but hopefully it won’t be too long.”
Green said Cooper’s injury was similar to the calf injury suffered by Johnathan Thurston earlier in the year.
“It was the same sort of action in doing it, retreating and then going to take off the line,” he said.
“He ( Cooper) felt it pop, so it’s unfortunate for us given the timing of it, but Coops will be doing everything he can to get back on the paddock and fingers crossed it will only be a couple of weeks.”
Coen Hess has b been named d to replace Cooper in the second row and Javid Bowen will take Winterstein’s place on the wing, while Ben Hampton comes back to the interchange after playing for feeder team the Northern Pride last weekend.
The Cowboys can all but secure their place in the upcoming finals with a win at Penrith’s Pepper Stadium, and established names such as Morgan and Scott Bolton will be expected to lift in the wake of North Queensland’s latest injury crisis.
Green is confident Morgan is ready for the captaincy, saying the fact Morgan is an 80 minute player was a factor in him assuming the captaincy over Bolton.
“He’s had added responsibility since Johnno’s been out and this is a natural step in his development,” he said.
“There’s other guys out there too who are part of the leadership group that will certainly help.
“It will be a team effort, but it will be good for Morgo.”
The Cowboys squad has been given extended rest courtesy of the eight- day turnaround, and Green believes his team’s morale has remained intact ahead of the demanding road home to finals.