He’s the hulking behemoth who has so often carried the North Queensland Cowboys on his back, but should Matt Scott be thrown back into the cauldron of a Grand Final having not played a game since picking up an ACL injury in round two?
Since then, the Cowboys have fought as valiantly and as bravely as any team in the competition, sneaking into the top eight at the last minute when the St George Illawarra Dragons shockingly failed to beat the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on the last day of the regular season. They have been written off at every turn but kept turning up and have battled their way to a Grand Final date with the Melbourne Storm.
A win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in week one of the finals series came as some surprise, while a boilover against the heavily fancied Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium gave a little more credence to the cause. But last week’s win over the Sydney Roosters not only earned the Cowboys a Grand Final berth, it has gained them the respect and admiration of the league as a whole.
Added to their injury woes alongside losing Scott was the loss of Johnathan Thurston, arguably the best player in the game, for half the campaign. While Thurston won’t be in a position to answer an SOS call from Green, Scott could force his way back into contention for the 17-man Grand Final team.
The case for picking Scott
Grand Finals are won by the best players in the league and, at his best, Scott is one of the very best prop forwards in the game today.
If Green has the experience and ability of someone like Scott to call upon for the big day, then he really doesn’t have a choice, does he? He has to pick the best players available to him and back them to get the job done against the more-fancied Storm at ANZ Stadium in front of 80,000+ screaming fans.
If he’s genuinely fit enough to be selected for the Cowboys, you have to think that Green will opt to draft in his star prop for the added firepower and workload over any potential disruption to the side that has gotten them this far.
A one-club veteran of 233 NRL games, 22 caps for Queensland during the Maroon’s most successful period and 22 Test matches for Australia, Scott is the sort of forward that has carved out a career based on winning football games. His big-game experience would be an invaluable addition to the Cowboys’ forward pack as they look to counter the roll-on of Melbourne’s Jesse Bromwich, Dale Finucane and Jordan McLean.
You can suggest changing a winning team would be unfair on the players that got the Cowboys to the big dance, but it’s all about winning the Grand Final and if Scott is match fit, then the Cowboys might have saved their best shock of the year till last.
The case for not picking Scott
Sometimes the best thing a team can have is a winning feeling and a bit of continuity in the setup and the playing squad.
The Cowboys have lurched their way through an injury-ridden season and then managed to play some of their best, toughest footy at the crunch times to reach the Grand Final. Green would be crazy to jettison one of the players who has been part of the team through this finals series to bring in a bloke who, while one of the better props in the game, may not even be fit enough to go toe-to-toe with the monstrous Storm forward pack.
Melbourne legend Robbie Kearns said as much when he spoke with ABC radio:
“I don’t think it would be the right thing to do,” said Kearns. “The current playing group have done a fantastic job to get the team where they are, which is a Grand Final this coming Sunday.
“I think it would be an injustice to the guys who did the job to get them there.”
Darren Lockyer and Andrew Johns, two of the better players to have ever played the game, echoed Kearns’ thoughts and feel picking Scott would be a mistake.
It could well be that Green falls in the same camp. The Cowboys’ mentor threw Scott onto the reserves list this week ahead of their clash with the Roosters and it did the job of causing some confusion in the build-up to the game. But whether he could actually pull the trigger and select Scott remains to be seen.
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