The coach looked like he had “lost sleep”.
And Matt Scott was shattered.
But North Queensland enforcer Jason Taumalolo has backed Cowboys mentor Paul Green’s huge call to rule Scott out of Sunday’s NRL grand final 17, admitting fielding the co-captain would be a risk.
Green held a surprise press conference on Monday to declare Test prop Scott would not feature against Melbourne in the season decider unless someone was injured at training this week.
And in a bid to shut down more speculation, Green said injury concerns Coen Hess (knee), Ethan Lowe (cheekbone) and John Asiata (hand) were not in doubt for the club’s second grand final in three years.
Green looked at his intense, focused best at the press conference but Taumalolo described a very different man who told the team the huge news earlier that day.
“I think he lost some sleep over it last night,” Taumalolo said of the Cowboys coach.
“We had a team meeting first and he announced it then.
“I didn’t see him (Scott) for a bit but you could tell he was pretty disappointed.”
However, Taumalolo admitted it would have been a risk to throw their pack leader into his first game in six months with the premiership on the line.
“It’s a big call but there’s a couple of big factors,” he said.
“He hasn’t played football for a while now, obviously match fitness would be a big factor if he played.
“And our younger boys have stepped up over the last two months through that tough period for us.
“It’s good to see them come out of their shell and add to the team.”
Taumalolo could still feel for Scott.
“For him to just be mentioned to be selected is huge,” he said.
“But I feel for Thumper (Scott).
“He has worked hard all year and probably deserves a shot but in saying that so do the boys who have played the last month.”
Taumalolo believed Scott would still play a huge role for the Cowboys as they look to upset runaway favourites the Storm and clinch a second premiership.
“For the guys who haven’t played a grand final before he will calm their nerves and just relax them,” he said.
“He will play his part off the field to help the boys on the field.”
Green said he called the press conference in a bid to “clear the air” after reports Corey Jensen would be replaced in the grand final 17 by Scott.
“Some of the comments last week were blown out of proportion (about Scott),” Green said.
“I think it is important that people don’t perceive that Matt was suggesting he take the place of someone in the 17 who have done the job for us so far.
“With that in mind if nothing happens injury-wise this week the same 17 will play on Sunday.”