North Queensland Toyota Cowboys five-eighth Te Maire Martin will not take the field against his former club the Penrith Panthers this weekend, having finished last week's game against the Melbourne Storm with a low-grade medial ligament strain.
Cowboys coach Paul Green has elected to go with either Ben Hampton or Kyle Laybutt in the halves with the other man filling the utility role on the bench.
"The fact that he finished the game was a good sign so we thought he might have been a chance but the fact that he wouldn't have trained until [Friday morning]… rather than risk not having good preparation we just made the decision by the middle of the week that we wouldn't risk it," Green said.
"He was pretty keen to play, so he's pretty disappointed, he wanted as long as possible so we gave him until the middle of the week. In the end I felt having a good prep was better than not knowing the team until today."
It's likely Martin won't be on the sidelines for long, with the low-grade injury not preventing the young half from finishing the game against Melbourne in Round 22.
"He did it reasonably early in the second half and finished the half which is a really good sign and that wasn't strapped either," Green said.
"We didn't want to put him at any further risk at this stage, I don't think we can roll the dice at this stage with players like that."
With Laybutt coming into the team, either in the halves or in a utility role, Green has been pleased with the NRL rookie's improvements in the Queensland Cup.
"He actually had a bit of time at hooker too last week, so that adds another string to his bow too. He's a good defender, he's got a great pass on him so he's got the attributes to make a good utility player, he's played centre also so he covers a number of positions," he said.
"He played Penrith last time so he shouldn't be over-awed, the fact that he's got his debut out of the way is a good thing, so you're not going through the nerves."
First published on NRL.com.