North Queensland are set to hand new playmaker Ray Thompson another chance to impress despite his lack of impact in their disappointing loss to Melbourne.
The Cowboys held on to third place on the NRL ladder following the 14-6 defeat but were outclassed by Storm from the opening whistle.
North Queensland’s first choice five-eighth Michael Morgan suffered an ankle sprain in their win over the Warriors last round and could miss the remainder of the season.
Without Morgan, the Cowboys attack lacked spark and Thompson, who was playing his first game in nearly two months, had little impact.
North Queensland didn’t score a try until the 79th minute.
Thompson has played just six NRL games this season, spending the majority of the year with the Townsville Blackhawks and North Queensland coach Paul Green said he would be better for the hit-out.
“The more time he (Thompson) spends there, the better he gets at it and the more comfortable he feels,” Green said.
“He can probably get himself a little bit more involved but first week back in the team in a key position, that takes a bit of time.”
Green’s other option for their game on Saturday night against Gold Coast is Robert Lui, with utility Rory Kostjaysn in doubt for the match after taking a heavy head knock just after half-time.
Second-rower Ethan Lowe also suffered a corked thigh.
Skipper Johnathan Thurston admitted the Cowboys’ attack, usually their greatest weapon, was below par.
“It was probably 10 per cent off but you’ve got to give credit to the Storm because they defended extremely well,” Thurston said.
“We can still take a lot of positives out of the game but we need to be better as well.”
Thurston said the inconsistent Storm, who are now fifth on the ladder, were still a threat for the title.
“Any team that has Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and also one of the best front-rowers going around in Jesse Bromwich, you’re always a premiership threat,” he said.