ASSISTANT coach Todd Payten insists the Cowboys aren't playing mind games with the Roosters by naming Matt Scott in their squad, adamant they're genuinely worried by their middle-forward depth.
But while they would "willingly throw him into the action" if other players succumbed to injury, he admitted there's a concern he could re-injure himself after suffering an ACL injury in round two.
As he has for most of the year in a non-playing role, the Cowboys co-captain travelled with the team to Sydney on Thursday.
Cowboys coach Paul Green revealed earlier this week the 32-year-old would not play in Saturday's preliminary final unless a player who started in last week's win over Parramatta is ruled out.
"I don't think that (mind games) was part of our plan, we were genuinely concerned about our lack of depth in that middle rotation," Payten said.
"'Thumper' gives us a great deal of experience and confidence if he was to come into the side. We wouldn't waste our energy playing mind games like that.
"There's a concern about the re-risk of injury at the moment. If he played and something happened in the game and he was forced to play longer minutes, that risk would be greater."
Payten said the Cowboys were confident Scott could manage about 30 minutes off the bench in the unlikely event he came into the side.
It is understood Scott is a far greater chance of playing in next week's grand final should the Cowboys qualify.
"Like Greeny said, he's there as a bit of cover, there's some question marks over a couple of middle forwards," Payten said.
"If one or two of them go down, we'll willingly throw him into the action.
"Not having had a game for six months, (he could play) a 20-minute stint and possibly finish the game with another 10-minute stint if he was thrown in there.
"That's something he could handle quite easily."
Payten doesn't feel fellow forward Coen Hess is in any doubt after picking up a medial injury against the Eels, while prop John Asiata (broken hand) is also expected to play through the pain.
"I don't think there's any doubt with Hessy. Hessy got through training, I saw him run without strapping early in the week," Payten said.
"We needled Johnny last Wednesday and that was his fitness test. He got through the game and it's the best game I've seen him play for a long time, it's just looking after him during the week."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the Cowboys would be wasting their time if they thought naming Scott would disrupt his team.
"It doesn't affect our preparation at all," Robinson told Fox Sports' League Life on Wednesday. "They're either playing mind games, or he's playing. You're not going to test him this week, it's a knee injury that's been around for seven months.
"If he's in it brings a lot of experience to their team and if he's not in, it's wasted energy for North Queensland.
"We know how they're going to play, he's a great player and we know what he does, we'll be ready for it."
Payten also ruled himself out of being any chance for the vacant Gold Coast and Canterbury head coaching roles, with Jason Demetriou and Dean Pay the respective favourites.
"It's flattering in some ways, but frustrating in others," Payten said of speculation linking him to the roles.
"I've been around long enough to know if they're genuine in their interest, they come looking for you. That hasn't happened."
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