Green hails Cowboys' NRL forward depth

Paul Green is keen to see Test lock Josh McGuire help cover for Jason Taumalolo, who is out injured.
Paul Green is keen to see Test lock Josh McGuire help cover for Jason Taumalolo, who is out injured.

No Jason Taumalolo? No worries.

North Queensland coach Paul Green has claimed Taumalolo's long term injury won't leave a void thanks to Test lock Josh McGuire's recruitment.

Green hailed the Cowboys' forward depth, saying it was a luxury to be able to replace Taumalolo at No.13 with Kangaroos enforcer McGuire for Saturday's NRL clash with Cronulla.

North Queensland were rocked by news this week that Taumalolo would be sidelined for six to 10 weeks with a knee medial ligament tear suffered in their 29-10 loss to Brisbane last round.

But asked how North Queensland would fill the void left by the former Dally M Medallist, Green said: "We don't have to - Josh McGuire is a pretty handy player.

"We've got a bit better (forward) depth so that makes it easier picking up Josh when we did.

"It is quite a luxury being able to replace Jason with Josh McGuire."

McGuire was snapped up by the Cowboys in the off-season on a lucrative four year deal after his shock departure from Brisbane.

The Cowboys will now hope to get bang for their buck after McGuire was asked to step up in Taumalolo's absence.

But Green hinted that McGuire's services in the No.13 jersey may not be needed for as long as many expected.

The Cowboys coach talked up Taumalolo's recovery, saying he wouldn't be surprised if the hulking forward returned sooner rather than later.

"Our medical staff have got a good record of getting guys back early," he said.

"That's why we tend not to put too strict a timeline on injuries because it depends on the person and depends on how hard they're prepared to work.

"But at this stage we're not quite sure (of Taumalolo's return date)."

Green still expected his Cowboys pack to respond in Taumalolo's absence after being outmuscled by Brisbane last week.

"Whenever a footy team gets beaten in that area it is a fair dent to the pride," he said.

"How they take that, we will see on Saturday."

Green made sweeping changes to his line-up, unveiling a new-look backline.

Three-quarters Justin O'Neill and Tom Opacic are out, No.6 Te Maire Martin has moved to fullback and Jordan Kahu and Ben Hampton will form a new centre pairing.

Youngster Jake Clifford is the new five-eighth.

"Our outside backs have to offer a little bit more," Green said.

Australian Associated Press