North Queensland’s short-term pain will be worth the long-term gain.
So says Cowboys coach Paul Green, who took the high road after his NRL side almost pulled off a miracle comeback in a 28-22 defeat to St George Illawarra on Saturday night.
Down 28-4 and without Johnathan Thurston, Jake Granville, Lachlan Coote and Matt Scott in Wollongong, the Cowboys got to within six but fell agonisingly short of a famous win.
Despite the brave effort, the competition heavyweights are likely to finish the round sitting outside the top eight for the first time in almost two years.
Even so, Green remains confident of his team’s premiership trajectory heading into next week’s home clash against perennial battlers Newcastle.
“Very confident, we’ll be right. We’re just having a rough period at the moment. Every season teams go through it. You don’t know when it’s going to be, ours is now,” Green said.
“We’re not winning games so we need to keep trying to jag a few wins and stay in touch with the leaders in the competition, which I’m confident we’ll do.
“And it’ll hold us in good stead at the back end of the year. You’d rather be going through this now than coming into the semi-finals, which happened to us last year.”
The Cowboys were forced to play 102-kilogram forward John Asiata in the halves on Saturday, while little-used Blake Leary started at hooker for just the second time in his five-year career.
Green also conceded winger Kyle Feldt could be playing better after he added two more errors to his competition-high 15 turnovers of the season.
After watching his team almost crawl out of a 24-point hole against the Dragons, Green insists the pain of some early season defeats could provide dividends in the long run.
Coote (calf) is a chance of returning against the Knights, and then Thurston (calf), Granville (leg) and Antonio Winterstein (arm) could be back the following week.
“It’s not just out top-line guys that are injured at the moment. It’s a few of our second-string guys there, that would be good back-up depth, they’re injured also,” Green said.
“We’re throwing some kids in there but as I said, we’ll be better for it down the track.
“They’re learning some tough lessons at the moment but they’ll be better for it down the track if they hang in there and stay tough. We’ll come out the other side a better team.”