North Queensland are expecting nothing but the best from an injury-hit controversy-plagued Wests Tigers outfit in Townsville.
Coach and captain dramas, club in-fighting, continued defeats and now injuries are plaguing Wests Tigers.
But the resurgent North Queensland Cowboys are braced for nothing but the best from a Robbie Farah-led outfit hellbent on ending their week from hell on a high on Saturday night.
The late injury-forced losses of Luke Brooks (shoulder) and Pat Richards (hamstring) has compounded the huge problems at the Tigers, meaning they will be missing nearly all of their regular starting backline in Townsville.
The only good news for the 12th-placed club, torn apart by Farah’s trials and tribulations, is the return of star centre Chris Lawrence from an ankle injury.
Back-rower Curtis Sironen will replace Brooks in the halves and Kurtis Rowe is set to play on the wing but the seventh-placed Cowboys are wary of an ambush.
“They’ll be desperate for a win and no one likes copping the criticism they’ve copped the last couple of weeks,” North Queensland coach Paul Green said.
“(Farah’s) got a lot of tricks in the bag and I’m sure he’ll be pulling them all out on Saturday night to be getting his team over the line.
“He’s certainly a player we’ll have to be on guard for.”
While Farah tried his best to hose down his perceived lack of support for coach Mick Potter, as well as his disappointment in chief executive Grant Mayer, on Friday, the fact remains the Tigers’ finals hopes will vanish with a third straight loss.
In contrast, the Cowboys are flying after three wins on the trot and are quietly confident that Test and NSW prop James Tamou is on track to return from his neck injury.
Tamou has steadily improved this week and returned to contact work on Wednesday.
Green will wait until kickoff to decide on the front-rower’s inclusion but won’t be taking any unnecessary risks.
“He’s actually pretty good,” he said. “The main thing is just getting the power and strength back in that arm, it’s coming along nicely.”
Farah stressed the Tigers could pull off an upset, even though Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston were firing to have the Cowboys eying a top-four spot.
“They haven’t got too many weaknesses but we know if we play to our structures and do what we want to do then we’ll go up there and give them a run,” he said.