Green swings axe in bid to save Cowboys’ season
PAUL Green has wielded the axe against his underperforming Cowboys side, dropping Justin O'Neill, Ethan Lowe and Lachlan Coote as the club desperately try to save their season.
Green has completely reshuffled his backline for Friday's home clash against the Warriors, with winger Antonio Winterstein also ruled out with a knee injury.
Kyle Feldt and Enari Tuala are only survivors from the back five that lost to Parramatta last week.
In an ominous sign, Coote, Lowe and O'Neill are also all currently off-contract, as is the injured Winterstein.
And in another massive statement, Green has axed Coote from his entire 21-man squad, with the undersiege fullback set to play for the Mackay Cutters in the Intrust Super Cup this week.
Green said it was not the end for the trio in the NRL this season, but their form had forced his hand.
"We're at that point (of cutting players) given our performance on Saturday night. Something had to change," he said.
"From here on in, my responsibility is to pick the best team I think can get the job done on the weekend.
"All of them can (come back). They have that ability at the moment. But we're trying to find some consistency with how we play. When that comes, I'm not sure.
"That's probably one of the worst parts of the job is to tell someone he's not in the team.
"You know they're good players but for different reasons they're just not quite at their best at the moment.
"It's always a tough conversation to have but at the end of the day you've got to do what's best for the team."
Michael Morgan, who is carrying an ongoing groin injury, will replace Coote at fullback while Kane Linnett will return to the centres for O'Neill and Javid Bowen will start on the wing for Winterstein.
In the forwards, the Cowboys will welcome back Scott Bolton (rib) while Ben Hampton returns as the bench utility.
Green said he wanted to see a big game from Bowen, who will play his 29th NRL match on Friday. The 25-year-old centre has had a few chances to prove his worth but is yet to cement a first grade spot.
"A few tries would be good," Green said of what he wants from Bowen.
"He's been there or thereabouts. He's had a couple of opportunities so I'd really like to see him make the most of this one.
"We all know what he can do in attack so it's important he brings that on the weekend."