A broken hand suffered by NRL grand final winger Antonio Winterstein has already caused pre-season headaches for Paul Green.
But the North Queensland coach admits complacency is his biggest concern as he prepares the Cowboys’ NRL title defence.
Green admitted Winterstein would be “touch and go” for next month’s World Cup Challenge in England after suffering the fracture this week.
“We won’t be risking him (for the WCC),” Green said.
“Round one is probably our main focus.
“But we will pick the strongest team we can for the WCC.
“He will be touch and go but if fit we will definitely play him.”
If Winterstein is fit, Green looks set to have at his disposal for the WCC the same 17 that won a dramatic golden point NRL grand final.
Co-captain Matt Scott is close to returning to full contact training after undergoing neck surgery.
Winger Kyle Feldt – who scored the famous try that locked up the season decider against Brisbane – is tracking well following an ankle operation.
The title of world’s best club will go on the line when English champions Leeds host North Queensland on February 21.
“Matt Scott is just about ready to start full contact at training – his operation went really well,” Green said.
“We almost have a full complement back on deck.”
Green admitted his worst fear was complacency especially after the Cowboys’ late pre-season training start due to prolonged premiership celebrations.
Players were still on their tour of regional areas showing off the NRL trophy to fans when most clubs returned to the training paddock in late 2015.
But Green said the early signs were good.
“We spoke about complacency, coming off such a good year last year,” he said.
“But I haven’t seen any signs of that, the boys have been training really well.
“Most teams got a head start on us in terms of when they started training.
“We are aware of that and working hard to make sure that we are improving also.
“It is a pretty different pre-season for us with just three weeks of training leading into Christmas.
“But most guys came back in good shape.”