No concerns for rested Cowboys NRL duo

North Queensland NRL coach Paul Green has played down concerns for stand-in skipper Gavin Cooper and centre Justin O’Neill after they were rested at training in Townsville on Tuesday.

Cooper and O’Neill were conspicuous by their absence, undergoing light duties before heading to the dressing room in front of thousands of fans after the club opened up 1300SMILES Stadium to the public.

But Green gave his team — with the exception of Johnathan Thurston — a clean bill of health ahead of Sunday’s NRL grand final against Melbourne.

He also cleared John Asiata (hand), Ethan Lowe (cheekbone), Coen Hess (knee) and Antonio Winterstein (ribs).

Much to his relief.

“They were just getting over the weekend, today was more recovery than training; it’s nothing major,” Green said of Cooper and O’Neill.

“It’s been a hell of a year for us for a number of different reasons.

“I don’t remember a year as tough from an injury perspective.

“I think we have used 32 players, which is a lot more than in past years; different guys have had to play different roles.”

Green was at peace with his decision to overlook Matt Scott for his 17 after announcing on Monday that the co-captain wouldn’t play unless there was an injury this week.

It was good news for bench forward Corey Jensen who looked set to make way for the Test prop.

“But there’s no extra pressure on Corey to do well because of that,” Green said.

The Cowboys savoured the hordes of fans who inundated their home stadium on Tuesday.

Green hoped to use lessons learned from their 2015 premiership campaign to guide his troops through what has already been a hectic week.

“Grand final week is not a normal week,” Green said.

“You want to embrace it and enjoy it but you have to enjoy it and can’t let it distract you; it’s a balance between the two.

“But thankfully in 2015 we got it right.”

Thousands are expected to send off North Queensland when they fly out to Sydney on Wednesday.

“It (flying to Sydney) has actually become routine for us and routine is good, it’s a winning routine too,” Green said.

“We’ve got a pretty good handle on that.

“We ran eighth so we knew straight away we wouldn’t be playing at home if we were to go all the way.

“The players have embraced it and got on with the job.”

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