North Queensland’s task on Saturday night at Shark Park has become that much harder, with coach Paul Green confirming Matt Scott won't be playing due to injury.
Scott recently made his return from a neck injury but it has flared up and the veteran prop’s 250th NRL match milestone has been postponed a week.
After his round 22 performance against the Broncos in which he was back to his barnstorming best in racking up 182 metres, his absence will be sorely felt.
It comes at the worst possible time for the Cowboys, as they try to claw themselves off the bottom of the ladder while also missing lock Jason Taumalolo due to a shoulder charge suspension.
"He's been playing well for us since his comeback and they're a pretty physical, pretty experienced forward pack the Sharks," Green said.
"We'll miss him, but we've beaten [the Sharks] without him last year so the boys should take some confidence out of that.
"Everyone [has to pick up the slack] it's not about whoever takes their spot trying to be that player, it's about everyone playing their role as well as they can and looking for a little bit more improvement."
No regrets for JT
The only silver lining for the Cowboys on Saturday night is that Sharks second-rower Wade Graham is also out with a knee injury, which will hopefully blunt the potency of in-form fullback Valentine Holmes.
"[Graham] is a great player, State of Origin player, provides another kick opportunity and he really varies it up for them, he's got a good combo with Val Holmes so they'll certainly miss him," Green said.
With Scott out, Green is likely to bring Ethan Lowe back into the starting side; the premiership-winner has been playing for the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup since he was dropped earlier in the year, but Green said this was his opportunity to regain his place in the side.
"I've been talking to Lowey throughout this whole time that he hasn't been in the team so he's pretty clear on what he needs to be good at and what we're looking for from him," he said.
"This is his opportunity to stay in the team, whether he does or not is up to him."