Cowboys welcome Matt for grand final rematch
COWBOYS co-captain Matt Scott has taken a big step toward proving his fitness for Friday's grand final rematch with Melbourne and the Origin opener after being named in North Queensland's side.
Although the prop didn't train fully on Tuesday after injuring his medial ligament in last week's loss to Souths, he did complete some light running in a positive sign for the Cowboys and Maroons.
Scott's likely inclusion is a huge boost for the Cowboys, with coach Paul Green sticking with Michael Morgan at fullback in an unchanged team that was beaten by a last second Souths penalty goal last week.
Green dumped Lachlan Coote and switched Morgan from the halves in search of spark, and the Queensland Origin star delivered with a dangerous display highlighted by two try assists.
Asked if the reshuffle would be long term, Green said: "We've got Origin around the corner so the team will have to be reshuffled again.
"There was some positive signs there, particularly for our attack. He (Morgan) had two really big defensive plays and two try assists, and threatened every time he touched the footy.
"If we had won some games we maybe wouldn't have made the change. But the fact is we had to change something and unfortunately for Cootey, that was the change we made.
"As a team in attack we were a lot more threatening but Origin is around the corner so there's a fair chance Cootey will get another crack pretty soon.
"If he comes back and plays well, the ball's in his court."
Scott will still have to prove his fitness this week, and Maroons coach Kevin Walters will be anxious for him to play Melbourne to get some match time under his belt before the series starts at the MCG on June 6.
With first choice Queensland forwards Josh McGuire and Matt Gillett out injured, Scott's leadership will be vital in a side missing the retired Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.
Friday's clash at 1300 SMILES Stadium is the last chance to impress before the Origin sides are named on Monday, with Storm forwards Felise Kaufusi and Tim Glasby also in the mix.
"He hasn't trained fully yet but touch wood he gets through the week and we'll see how he goes," Green said.
"He's only done a little bit of running today, but that's a positive."
"Given Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnno (Thurston) have all pulled the pin on Origin this year, I think they'll probably stick with a lot of the incumbents from an experience point of view.
"You would think Coops (Gavin Cooper), Hessy (Coen Hess), Morgo (Michael Morgan) would be a chance, but there's still one game to go."
Green's toughest job this week will be getting his player's heads right after the shattering loss to the Rabbitohs consigned them to a 3-8 hole.
"For 79 minutes and 59 seconds we were the better side. It was still not good enough to get a win but they're one of the form sides in the comp," Green said.
"It was pretty gut wrenching. I said to them (players) if you can think of a way to really test our resolve, that was probably it.
"While you're left with a pretty sour taste in your mouth, you have to remember it was a huge step in the right direction for us.
"There's no point feeling sorry for yourself, you have to get on with it."
Cowboys team to play Melbourne on Friday, 7.55pm at 1300 SMILES Stadium: 1 Michael Morgan, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O'Neill, 4 Ben Hampton, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matt Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo 14 Enari Tuala, 15 Shaun Fensom, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Francis Molo 18 Ethan Lowe, 19 Lachlan Coote, 20 Sam Hoare, 21 Javid Bowen