Injuries and Origin commitments left Cowboys coach Paul Green struggling to name a 17-man team for Saturday night's home game against Manly.
The Cowboys have Josh McGuire and Michael Morgan on Origin duty with the Maroons on Wednesday night and continue to deal with injuries to other key players.
Green said picking a side to face the Sea Eagles was one of his more challenging tasks this season.
The injury toll is mounting at the club with Jordan Kahu [shoulder] and Gideon Gela-Mosby [collarbone] the latest casualties to join Matt Scott, Justin O’Neill, Ben Hampton, Te Maire Martin and Nene McDonald on the sideline for an extended period.
“Given it’s around Origin time has probably made it a little bit more difficult too," Green said.
“I wouldn't say a crisis. It's just injuries that happen in any year, probably just a few more than the average at the moment.
"We'll cope with it. We've shuffled the team around and guys that have been put into positions have come up to the mark.”
After last week’s hard-fought win over the Titans, Green said there’s an expectation to go out and get the job done, regardless of the club’s circumstances or who throws on the jersey.
“We've tried to always have that attitude," he said.
"We've been hit with a few injuries so it's always been that expectation. Origin has always been a challenge for us even though we haven't got a high representation this year.
“We’ve got full confidence in any of the young guys that come in to do their job, and I think the guys that have so far have been really good for us.”
Morgan and McGuire have been named in Green's side but a final decision won't be made until he checks on the pair on Saturday morning.
"We're not going to take any unnecessary risks," he said.
"If they get through, generally guys like to back up from Origin.”
Young hooker Reuben Cotter will make his NRL debut, filling the void left by Kurt Baptiste (suspended).
Cotter has battled injury in the past and Green is more than happy to provide him with an opportunity.
“He’s built into the year nicely," he said.
"It's a terrific story given what he's been through with a couple of knee surgeries. It's a credit to the kid.”
Green gave an injury update on Justin O’Neill who was hospitalised with a damaged spleen after the Cowboys' round 11 road victory over the Raiders.
“He’s out of hospital but he's still in Canberra," he said.
"He just needs to get a final review before he's allowed to come back. But given he can't really do too much in the short term, he'll probably spend some time with his family and then be back on deck not long after that.”
Jordan Kahu has had scans on a shoulder injury he picked up last week against the Titans but the club is still waiting on the full results.
Green confirmed the Cowboys were keen to sign Scott Drinkwater from Melbourne but a deal was yet to be struck.
“Through the appropriate channels, we’re investigating all opportunities at the moment," he said.
"We've got one spot left in our cap that we have to fill by the end of the month.”