Gallen accuses undermanned Cowboys of 'crying poor'
HE'S the king of antagonising Queenslanders. And Paul Gallen is at it again.
The Cronulla Sharks skipper has accused the undermanned Cowboys of "crying poor" over their injury crisis.
But the numbers prove opposite number Gavin Cooper is right when he says the team is "busted" despite the majority of players returning to the line-up.
Gallen was infamous for launching pot shots at the Maroons in his six years as NSW captain, and the Sharks hard man has wasted little time taking a swipe at the boys from Townsville.
"They're a good side. They've sort of being crying poor all year the Cowboys, with all the injuries they've got," Gallen told Fox Sports.
"At the end of the day they've got two players out, and mind you they're two very good players in (Johnathan) Thurston and (Matt Scott).
"But the rest of their side they're stacked with a couple of Kiwi internationals, a lot of Origin players.
"Michael Morgan is as good as anyone in the competition, Gavin Cooper is an Origin player. They've still got plenty of strike power there and we'll have to be at their best to beat them."
Gallen's summation that Scott and Thurston are the only big name regulars missing from the Cowboys team this Sunday is technically correct.
But what has been overlooked is the number of players who wouldn't be putting the boots on at Allianz Stadium on Sunday if the season wasn't on the line.
Te Maire Martin and Shaun Fensom are both understood to be carrying medial injuries which should put them on the sidelines, Lachlan Coote has been on one leg with an ankle injury for a fortnight and props Scott Bolton and John Asiata (elbow) are also playing injured.
Uncapped winger Marcus Jensen is the only player in North Queensland's top 35 squad who either hasn't played NRL this year, or suffered a season-ending injury before round one.
Only Gold Coast (34) have used more players than the Cowboys this year (32), including six debutants, highlighting the lack of cohesiveness each week.
"We are busted if you look at our rosters, but we're still going out there and putting in good performances," Cooper told Fox Sports.
"We have to be smarter in a couple of areas and from now on there's no preparing for finals, it's here and as long as you win you stay in the fight.
"They (Cronulla) slipped a little bit in the middle of the year, very much like we did a couple of years ago after we won the comp.
"It's very tough when people keep challenging you, (but) they seem to have found their form again."
Cowboys coach Paul Green said while the big casualty ward isn't ideal, the silver lining is it's given young players a chance and an opportunity for himself to grow as a mentor.
"It's been really challenging given all the adversity we've had to face with the injuries," Green said.
"That's when you're really tested as a coach and it brings out the best in you.
"When you're rolling on and you've got your best players and your routine down pat, things look after itself.
"It's when you go through these periods that you're really tested and challenged, and I've really enjoyed it."