Talk about a pain in the neck.
North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott admits he is hurting ahead of Saturday night’s NRL knockout semi-final against Cronulla in Townsville.
But it has nothing to do with his much publicised neck complaint that may require end of season surgery.
The Test prop reckons he can manage his ongoing injury despite the Cowboys considering a similar operation to teammate James Tamou.
What hurts the most is North Queensland’s premiership drought – and a missed chance to help break it 10 years ago.
History shows Scott was 18th man at North Queensland’s sole grand final appearance in 2005 – a heartbreaking loss to the Wests Tigers.
“We haven’t been in a grand final since – that’s how hard this comp is,” Scott lamented.
A decade is a long time to wait for another premiership chance but Scott is keeping his fingers crossed he gets one in North Queensland’s 20th anniversary year.
“Any year would be great to do it but with the 20th anniversary it will be a special time for the club,” Scott said.
And Scott reckons his lingering neck issues won’t stop him.
Scott last rested his neck complaint in round 22 – when Cronulla snapped North Queensland’s eight game away winning run with a 30-18 triumph last month.
Scott has required cortisone injections to get him through the year.
“It is good at the moment but it’s something I have to manage,” Scott said of his neck.
“I am in a good place.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green did not look concerned by Scott’s fitness despite North Queensland physio Steve Sartori admitting the hulking prop may need surgery similar to Tamou.
For the record, Test front-rower Tamou made a remarkable 12-week recovery to run out in North Queensland’s NRL season opener this year despite going under the knife in the off-season.
“This is nothing new for Thumper, he has been dealing with this for a number of years,” Green said of Scott.
“He’s okay. We know how to manage him and he can handle his body pretty well.”
Scott’s patience has been tested by his injury but even more by his long wait for another grand final.
But it is nothing on the long suffering Sharks who last played a grand final since 1997 – the longest drought of any team besides Canberra (1994).
North Queensland lost their opening finals match 16-12 to Brisbane last week.
It has been nine years since a side lost their opening final and came back to win the premiership – Brisbane in 2006.