Officially, they are preparing for Brisbane centre James Roberts to run out in Friday night’s NRL semi-final in Townsville but North Queensland don’t exactly sound convinced he will.
Cowboys coach Paul Green has all but breathed a sigh of relief that North Queensland did not have to defend Roberts’ contrary conduct charge at the NRL judiciary in Sydney on Wednesday night.
Brisbane will roll the dice and fight Roberts’ grade one charge after he was pinged for allegedly kicking Gold Coast’s Ryan Simpkins in the play the ball during last week’s opening finals win over the Titans.
He will miss the sudden death semi in Townsville if found guilty.
Green said their gameplan had not changed despite hearing that Roberts had been charged.
But asked about Roberts’ prospects, Green was not exactly encouraging.
“I think it is a hard case for him to win but that is out of my control,” Green said.
“That is for them to worry about.
“We will prepare as if he is playing and if not we will deal with it.”
Due to a previous offence, Roberts would have missed a game even with an early guilty plea.
Even Brisbane sounded unconvinced that Roberts could escape suspension when the match review committee rap sheet was confirmed earlier this week.
“Who knows with the judiciary system – it has been a funny year,” Broncos veteran forward Sam Thaiday said.
Prominent players, coaches and administrators expressed concern over the system’s inconsistency following Jack Wighton’s shock exoneration last week.
Many were confused over what constitutes a shoulder charge after Canberra’s Wighton successfully fought a grade-two charge and escaped a four week ban.
It was the latest in a string of incidents this season where the match review committee and judiciary appeared to be at loggerheads over penalties and even offences.
Green wouldn’t bite when pressed on Tuesday.
“I really don’t want to get bogged down talking about the judiciary – it’s not my worry,” he said.
Cowboys champion Johnathan Thurston admitted Roberts would be missed by Brisbane.
“He’s starting to find some form, he just needs a bit of room then you watch him do the rest,” he said.
But asked about Roberts’ judiciary prospects, a tight lipped Thurston said: “It’s probably best I don’t comment on it.”