Cooper backs fellow Cowboy Scott to perform
COWBOYS veteran Gavin Cooper has defended co-captain Matt Scott, declaring the Test and Origin warhorse can still be an NRL force.
Scott is on the comeback trail from a knee reconstruction which limited him to just two NRL matches last year.
The 32-year-old prop has been slow to start 2017 as the Cowboys find themselves in a horrible patch of form and a five-game losing streak.
Most players struggle in the early days of their return from a knee reconstruction and Scott has put his body through plenty of punishment during a 239-game NRL career.
The Maroons are banking on Scott being a force during this year's Origin series, but he is still some way off finding his best form.
Scott's output has been down in 2018, with the 109kg prop averaging 43 minutes for 92m and 16 tackles a game.
At his peak, Scott is one of the toughest props to contain in the NRL and Cooper said he was starting to get back to his best.
"He's still got it in him," he said.
"We saw it in the second half (against the Bulldogs last week) he was bringing back some of those drop-outs and bumping people out of the way.
"We're not looking to one person to do anything extra special. We've all got a lot of hard work to do."
Scott and Melbourne recruit Jordan McLean were expected to form the most formidable front row rotation in the NRL this season.
However, McLean's season has been shattered by a foot injury suffered in Round 4, leaving Scott to lead North Queensland's engine room once again.
The Cowboys' much-hyped forward pack hasn't fired in 2018, but 267-game statesman Cooper denied they were relying on returning co-captains Scott and Johnathan Thurston to lead the way.
"I don't buy into that at all," he said.
"We're not looking to those guys to do anything special.
"As a team, inside the walls we haven't lived up to our own expectations. We're not worried about anybody else's expectations.
"We hold greater expectations than anyone else."
Scott will come up against one of the players that replaced him in the Maroons team last year, Gold Coast Titans prop Jarrod Wallace, at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday.
Wallace is fighting to retain his Maroons jersey given Scott will return to the fold this year and likely slot back into Queensland's starting side.
The Cowboys need Scott charging through defences if they are to fight back into finals contention and lock Jason Taumalolo said he was improving.
"Guys take a bit of time to come back from (a knee reconstruction) to find form and match fitness," Taumalolo said.
"Thumps (Scott) is slowly getting there. For someone his age and the calibre of player he is, he is definitely improving every week."