Already hit by centre Kane Linnett's injury, North Queensland are now sweating on backrower Ethan Lowe's fitness ahead of Friday night's sudden death NRL semi-final against Brisbane in Townsville.
It emerged on Wednesday that Lowe had suffered a neck complaint in last week's finals loss to Melbourne and may struggle to take his place in the grand final re-match for the defending champions.
Youngster Coen Hess is on standby to replace Lowe - a Queensland Origin 18th man this year - in the starting line-up with either Patrick Kaufusi or John Asiata expected to be added to the bench.
It is another headache for Cowboys coach Paul Green after naming Javid Bowen - who has played just eight NRL games - in his backline for the experienced Linnett (calf) on Tuesday.
But it seems North Queensland have not given up hope on Linnett running out in their must win clash.
"I am sure Paul Green will give him up to the last minute to prove his fitness," Cowboys support staff member Brent Tate told Fox Sports TV.
"He's very important to this side, he is very good defensively.
"And these big games are all won on defence. He will be a huge loss if he is not out there."