Cowboys lose firepower for Sharks showdown
COWBOYS coach Paul Green has implored his forward pack to step up in the absence of rampaging lock Jason Taumalolo.
The North Queensland lock will sit out Saturday night's clash with Cronulla after he copped a knock to the knee in last weekend's win over Gold Coast.
Incredibly Taumalolo copped the knock in the first half, before coming back on and running for more than 200m in his second stint at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
Scans over the weekend revealed the Tongan giant had bruising to the bone on his knee with the club hopeful he will only miss the one clash.
"He copped a bit of a whack on the knee early in the game," Cowboys coach Paul Green said.
"It pulled up sore the next day, we got a scan as a precaution and it showed up a bit of bruising on the bone.
"With bone bruising you don't really know how long it will take to get better, but fingers crossed it will only be a week."
Taumalolo has maintained an unbelievable work rate in the opening rounds of the competition averaging more than 250m per game and breaking the modern day record for most metres by a forward in the Cowboys win over the Bulldogs in Round 2.
He also averages almost six tackle busts per game and is a big reason the Cowboys have won their past two games. It will be big shoes to fill, but Green has backed his entire pack to do it.
"Everyone has to step up, particularly when you lose a good player," Green said. "Everyone else has to do a little but more."
Kangaroos representative Josh McGuire will shift to lock to cover Taumalolo with bench forward Francis Molo earning an opportunity to start in the front row from coach Green.
Exciting young forward Tom Gilbert has been named to make his debut from the bench after starring in the Queensland Cup for Townsville Blackhawks last season.
Gilbert was crowned Queensland Cup ro0okie of the year after leading the Blackhawks to within one game of the grand final. The young forward was one of the major talking points coming out of the Cowboys pre-season after showing a fearless approach during opposed sessions.
"He is a good young fella coming through, he has been in our system for a little while. The thing about Tom is each time he has gone a step up in his career he has always handled it really well.
"He has been a real professional for a kid his age. He is a competitor. He always gives his best effort and loves the contest.
"Those guys bring plenty of energy to your team and the Sharks play a pretty aggressive game - so it will come in handy."
Veteran backrower Gavin Cooper will also make his return to the field after sitting out last week's NRL return due to a calf strain. Cooper will come off the bench against the Sharks with Coen Hess and Mitchell Dunn retaining their starting spots.
Originally published as Cowboys lose firepower for Sharks showdown