Pressure is mounting on North Queensland coach Paul Green to make one of the toughest calls of his coaching career and bring Matt Scott back for Sunday’s NRL grand final.
Scott won’t have played for 205 days come kick off against Melbourne on Sunday, but Cowboys players have spoken of his desire to return from a season-long knee injury before Saturday’s preliminary final win over the Sydney Roosters.
Scott was a late omission in the No.21 jersey, but fellow injured co-captain Johnathan Thurston declared he thought he’d be “fit to play” the Storm on Sunday night.
Senior Cowboys Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan have also voiced their support on the impact he would have on the team if he returned.
“It’d be a huge confidence boost, but at the same time someone gets to miss out,” Taumalolo said.
“Everyone that’s been playing has been great, but I think it’s inspirational to see our co-captain make himself available.
“At the moment it’s a tough decision. I’ll leave that to Greeny.”
Green dodged questions on Scott’s selection on Saturday night, but confirmed on the return to Townsville on Sunday the prop would again be named in his 21-man squad on Tuesday.
Only second-rower Ethan Lowe (black eye) picked up an injury in Saturday night’s win, but Coen Hess (knee), John Asiata (broken hand) and Shaun Fensom (knee) are all playing through pain.
Scott has played 16 finals matches since he debuted for the Cowboys in 2004, and has led their forward pack since he became a Queensland State of Origin regular in 2009.
If he was to come into the side, it would most likely be in place of interchange forward Corey Jensen, who debuted for the Cowboys in round seven this year and has averaged 23 minutes off the bench.
It’s expected Scott would come off the bench and play two stints totalling 30 minutes – as was the plan if he had turned out against the Roosters.
On his departure from Sydney on Sunday morning, five-eighth Morgan told Fox Sports News even that time would be valuable.
“A guy like Matt Scott, to have him in the team in a game like this as well, it would be huge … just his influence across the team,” Morgan said.
“He obviously wouldn’t need to play too many minutes, it would be about his presence and what he could bring for the side – his leadership qualities and just his experience can’t be underrated.
“I certainly trust the guys who are there. They’ve certainly shown that in the last few weeks and through the season that they’re more than capable of doing the job for us and doing the job well.”