Michael Morgan will be asked to temporarily spearhead North Queensland’s quest for a top four spot, with Johnathan Thurston likely to miss around two weeks.
Thurston went off early in the second half in North Queensland’s 36-0 win in Townsville on Thursday night with a hamstring injury and spent the remainder of the match icing the injury on the sideline.
He will go for scans on Friday and Cowboys coach Paul Green said he would be taking a safety first approach ahead of their next match against Melbourne in Townsville on Saturday week.
“We certainly won’t be taking any unnecessary risks with him at this time of the year,” Green said.
“It’s not too bad, it wasn’t like he was running and suddenly stopped.”
Sydney Roosters’ premiership campaign hit a wall when Mitchell Pearce suffered a hamstring injury late last year. But the Cowboys have a very capable replacement to lead their attack in Queensland star Morgan.
In his return from a knee injury suffered in State of Origin II, Morgan kept the Cowboys humming in Thurston’s absence turning a 20-0 lead into a 36-0 victory.
“Morgan stepped up to run the team there and that was a good thing for his development and our performance,” Green said.
“We have certainly gone past those times that if JT was out the team would lose all hope of being able to win.
“If he is not there it is not the end of the world. Other players can contribute.”
Ray Thompson will likely come into the halves alongside Morgan if Thurston is ruled out.
Representative prop Matt Scott was buoyed by the Cowboys’ effort after Thurston was injured.
“We kept playing that attacking football and that is a good thing if JT isn’t in the team next week,” he said.
“Obviously we want him there but it will be a good break for him. He can freshen up mentally and physically.”
North Queensland roared back into form to consolidate third spot on the ladder.
The Bulldogs could drop out of the top four if results go against them in the remainder of round 20.
“We will leave our frustration behind,” Dogs coach Des Hasler said.
“The next game can’t come quickly enough.”
Melbourne defeated North Queensland 15-14 at Suncorp Stadium in round 10.