North Queensland prop Matt Scott has been ruled out of Friday night's game against the Dragons after failing to recover from a shoulder injury in time.
Scott, who was injured in the Cowboys' round 11 win over Canberra, did not travel with the team on Thursday.
"He wanted to probably give it a good test out this week and has pulled up a bit sorer," North Queensland coach Paul Green said of Scott's shoulder.
Green knows both teams will be desperate for a win to help get their premiership campaign back on track and believes the Cowboys are not far off the mark.
The Cowboys are coming off back-to-back defeats and take on a Dragons side that is also desperate to return to form after losing six of their last seven.
"They're at home on Friday night and they want to get some form on the board for themselves, but we're coming off two losses also that you could say they were pretty tough losses, given some of the decisions during those games so for us that's motivation," Green said.
"We've just got to be a little bit better."
Dragons v Cowboys - Round 15
Cowboys vice-captain Jordan McLean welcomed the week off during representative round, sidelined with a hamstring complaint.
"You get halfway through the year and mentally you feel it so it's good to get away and have a little bit of time off," McLean said.
McLean will get to play alongside a familiar face when Scott Drinkwater debuts for the Cowboys on Friday night, with the star prop excited by what the young fullback will bring to the club.
"I know him from Melbourne. He hadn't played first grade then, but he was always someone to watch at training coming through the lower grades, it's good to have him up here," McLean said.
"He's a pretty cruisey kind of lad old, Drinky, so he fits in straight away."
Jordan Kahu will play centre for the foreseeable future to make way for Drinkwater at fullback, Kahu though isn't too fazed by the positional change.
"It is what it is, I guess. I've played centre numerous times, it's not something that I'm too unfamiliar with," Kahu said.
"That's what I came up here for, for the opportunity to play NRL, and I wasn't going to get that at Brisbane, and I was told that. Moving to Townsville was a part of that and as long as I'm playing here, then I guess I'll be happy."
Match: Dragons v Cowboys
Round 15 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
- LIVE PASS
Kahu was in Drinkwater's shoes earlier this year when he too made the move to Townsville, and said having familiar faces always helped when starting out with a new club.
"He knew a few of the boys which obviously helps, and I found that out at the start of the year, knowing a few faces made it a lot easier to transition, so he'll fit in.
"He's a good young fella and cheeky."
Kahu came back earlier than expected from a shoulder injury he picked up against the Titans in round 12 and is still playing through the pain.
"I'm dealing with the most pain [during the week] but once I get to the game, I'm getting a needle to numb it."