Toll puts strain on salary cap
THE Cowboys injury drama has stretched their second- tier salary cap to the limit with coach Paul Green confirming they will likely need to apply to the NRL for dispensation to blood more players.
North Queensland has already used 30 players this season, up from 26 last year, after back rower Patrick Mago made a solid debut in Saturday’s 24- 16 loss at Penrith.
Mago is the fifth Cowboy to make an NRL debut this year after Gideon Gela- Mosby, Kyle Laybutt, Corey Jensen and Braden Uele, none of whom are in the top 25 squad.
Green said they would be getting perilously close to their second tier cap limit and is hopeful the NRL will take their huge injury toll into account.
Fourteen of North Queensland’s top 25 squad are injured or under injury clouds before Saturday’s crucial home clash with Cronulla.
Seven of those are out for the year and representative centre Justin O’Neill may join them after he potentially dislocated his elbow against the Panthers.
“We’re definitely under pressure there ( second tier cap) given the amount of injuries we’ve had, and the amount of season ending injuries that puts a lot of pressure on that,” Green said.
“We’re down on troops, there’s no doubt about it.
“We’re probably at a point now where we’re very close to having to get dispensation to use anyone else that we haven’t used.”
Green urged his team, who have now slipped to eighth on the ladder, to keep the faith despite the huge casualty ward.
“When teams use things like injuries as an excuse it gives them an out for performance,” Green said.
“The bottom line is despite everything that happened ( against Penrith) we still had our chances to win the game.”
Green said being able to give some youngsters a taste of the NRL was one of the few positives to take from the injury toll.
“There’s not too many who have missed out this year,” he said.
“That’s a positive to take out of the year, but the year’s not over yet. We still have to hang in there.”