His absence is always going to be felt but Saturday's error-strewn 26-16 loss to Cronulla is the eighth NRL defeat in North Queensland's past 10 games without Jason Taumalolo.
The wrecking-ball forward was ruled out of the Sharks' game earlier in the week due to bone bruising on his knee and his absence was keenly felt as the Cowboys were upset by the previously winless visitors.
With Coen Hess (ankle) also sidelined and Mitchell Dunn (concussion) and John Asiata (knee) failing to complete the first half, the undermanned Cowboys were unable to keep pace with the Sharks in the final stages at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
The situation leaves Cowboys coach Paul Green with a dilemma heading into next Friday's visit to Central Coast Stadium to face the Warriors.
Given his importance to North Queensland's performance, Green would be tempted to recall Taumalolo as soon as possible but admits he's unsure if he'll be okay to play.
"Hopefully yeah. We'll see though, we'll see how he trains on Monday and go from there," Green said.
With or without Taumalolo, next Friday's game will be the Cowboys' first outside Townsville since the resumption of the code following the COVID-19 shutdown.
Green said he wasn't fazed by a schedule which would involve flying to NSW, playing the match and then flying back to Queensland all on the same day, saying it was something all teams are going to have to learn to deal with.
"It's something we have to deal with but everyone has to deal with it." Green said.
"We'll put things in place to try and minimise the trip and keep fresh this week as well, it is what it is."
Australian Associated Press