By Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys players have backed rookie Corey Jensen to continue to fill the void left by Matt Scott after coach Paul Green on Monday attempted to quell any speculation that his Test front-rower and co-captain could make a shock return in Sunday's Telstra Premiership Grand Final.
Green sent the rugby league news cycle into overdrive last week when he named Scott in his initial 21-man squad on Tuesday and waited until an hour before kick-off against the Roosters on Saturday before opting to use the same 17.
As suspicions grew that with an additional eight days in his recovery from an ACL injury that Scott could be thrown in against the Storm having not played since Round 2, Green addressed the playing group on Monday morning to reassure them that barring any unforeseen mishaps, the 17 who earned the club a place in the decider would be given the opportunity to win North Queensland's second premiership in just three years.
A goal-kicking back-rower in the Cowboys under-20s system for three years, Jensen earned an NRL contract after being named Player of the Year for the Townsville Blackhawks in the Intrust Super Cup last year and made his NRL debut in Round 7.
The 23-year-old has since gone on to play 16 games in the top grade this season and according to hooker Jake Granville has the faith of his teammates that he continue to provide the impact off the bench that the team needs.
"'Greeny' did let us know this morning that the same 17 that walked off the pitch will trundle back out on Sunday," Granville told NRL.com.
"It is a massive effort for 'Coz' (Jensen) to fill the role that he has. He probably didn't picture himself in the position that he's in but he's been a great player for us all year and he'll be putting in that effort like everyone will be there Sunday.
"His confidence probably has grown a lot more [during the season]. He's been able to play a lot more regular sort of games week in and week out with the regular first grade appearance.
"He's enjoying it and got a great running game and he'll be trying his best on Sunday."
Scott hasn't played since limping from the field with a knee injury in Round 2 against the Broncos but has been making steady progress in his recovery.
The fact remains that he could very well play on Sunday and have a final say in his side's premiership fairytale but Green was adamant that he will only be used in case of an emergency.
"The 17 guys that got us to the grand final will be the 17 guys that will play next weekend," Green reiterated.
"They're the guys that got us there so they deserve the chance to get the job done for us again.
"With respect to some of the comments made last week, some of it got a little bit blown out of proportion and probably taken a little bit the wrong way.
"By no means was Matt suggesting that he should have been in the 17. When speaking about being considered for selection it was more about him being available if needed.
"With that in mind, as long as nothing happens injury-wise throughout the week, the same 17 will play on Sunday.
"If that's not the case and we were to have something go against us, as a forward option Matt would come into the frame."
Green said that the reason for naming Scott in the 21 for the Roosters clash was the uncertainty around a knee injury sustained by Coen Hess the week prior, something that he insists is not an issue this week.
"Last week was a different situation in that Coen Hess picked up a slight injury through the week and by the time I needed to name the team we hadn't actually met or trained so I wasn't too sure how he'd pulled up," Green said.
"We all saw him get through the game on the weekend so there's no injury concerns there."
The only other slight injury concern for the Cowboys was the black eye Ethan Lowe was sporting when he returned to Townsville on Sunday but Green said there was no structural damage and that he would be fit to take his place.
First published on NRL.com.