Cowboys throw Drinkwater in deep end
Signed on Monday, playing on Saturday - the "next Billy Slater" Scott Drinkwater is set to make his debut for the Cowboys against the Dragons this weekend.
The 22-year-old signed a 2½ year contract with North Queensland on Monday and will have spent less than a week at the club when he makes his Cowboys debut on Saturday night.
It comes as coach Paul Green continues to reshuffle his pack due to a growing casualty ward and Tuesday named skipper Michael Morgan in the No.6 jersey for the first time this year.
Morgan stepped into former Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston's halfback role this year but injuries to other players forced him to play fullback in the past two matches.
The inclusion of Drinkwater now shifts Morgan back to his more familiar five-eighth role, while young gun Jake Clifford has retained his spot at halfback.
Drinkwater has been touted as the next Billy Slater after serving his NRL apprenticeship underneath the former Queensland and Australia fullback in the Melbourne Storm system.
Speaking for the first time since signing with the Cowboys, Drinkwater said he was looking forward to the opportunity to play up north.
"The Cowboys have been a pretty successful team in the past couple of years so I was pretty excited when they reached out to me," Drinkwater said.
"Greeny (coach Paul Green) rang me a few weeks ago letting me know he was interested in me so that was a confidence boost for me.
"I'm really excited about getting the chance to play fullback this weekend."
Back-up hooker Kurt Baptiste was added to the Cowboys' growing injury list at the weekend after being ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL (knee) injury suffered during the PNG v Samoa game.
Young Mackay product Reuben Cotter has been named to take his place as the utility player on the bench.
Front row enforcer Matt Scott has been named in the extended squad as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury while vice-captain Jordan McLean will return from a hamstring injury.
Maroons representative Morgan is likely to back-up from last Sunday's disappointing loss to NSW in Perth, while fellow Queenslander Josh McGuire will miss a week due to suspension.
Cowboys centre Jordan Kahu said the side's depth had helped them cope with through the large number of injuries.
"It's not a good thing that we've had so many injuries but I think we've coped so far because there's been so much movement," Kahu said. "We've had two pretty big ones to key players but we can't really blame our performances on injuries."