Cowboys expecting desperate Warriors side
Desperate times call for desperate measures and North Queensland coach Neil Henry expects such a move from last gasp NRL finals aspirants the Warriors.
Henry is expecting James Maloney to run out in Townsville on Saturday night despite the Warriors playmaker injuring his right knee in the first half of their embarrassing 45-4 last round loss to the Sharks.
Warriors coach Brian McClennan kept the door open despite naming under 20s star Carlos Tuimavave at five-eighth for the must-win clash.
McClennan said Maloney would travel with the team.
"Jim is still an outside chance, actually," McClennan told reporters.
"He's healing fairly quickly so we'll see how that pans out as we get closer to the game.
"Straight after the game (against the Sharks), we were thinking two weeks but let's see."
Henry was not surprised the 13th-placed Warriors (8-12 record) were willing to roll the dice with Maloney after emerging two wins outside the top eight approaching the last month of the regular season.
"We would do the same thing if we had a chance to play one of our halves," Henry said on Friday.
"All coaches would like to get their best players out there.
"It is the last roll of the dice a bit for them with regards to where they sit on the ladder - we are prepared to play against a desperate side."
But the Cowboys (6th; 11-9) know all about desperation after watching their top four hopes stumble with two straight losses.
"We don't want three in a row," Henry said.
"There's going to be lot of tough games in the last four weeks.
"There are a number of different things that can happen this time of year the way the table is.
"We are not going to be sure of the final makeup until the final weeks.
"There is a lot to play for but we need to get on top of New Zealand to start with."
North Queensland-born back-rower Micheal Luck will return for the Warriors this weekend in only his third game in his swansong year after wrestling with wrist and shoulder complaints.
"His mum and dad are season ticket holders so there might be some divided loyalties there - but hopefully they are cheering for us," Henry said of Luck's Townsville following.