Toll puts strain on salary cap

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH

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.”

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