Jake Clifford was among the Cowboys' best against the Titans. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Jake Clifford was among the Cowboys' best against the Titans. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Cowboys coach still searching for right mix

NORTH Queensland coach Paul Green has revealed up to four spots remain up for grabs ahead of the Cowboys' final pre-season hit-out.

The Cowboys beat the Gold Coast Titans 22-16 in windy conditions on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, with Green rotating through a 23-man squad that for the most part impressed.

Jake Clifford put his hands up for the club's halfback spot with a three-try, 18-point haul and Test forwards Matt Scott, Jason Taumalolo and Jordan McLean all played 20-minute stints to blow out the pre-season cobwebs.

The competition between Clifford and Te Maire Martin may be the most intriguing selection battle but Green said he had further positional headaches.

"There's probably still three of four spots up for grabs I think," he said.

"We have a couple of injury concerns that aren't major, but we just need to check on them.

"(With) Kurt Baptiste (injured) that may change the make-up of the bench, and some of our centres, outside backs haven't had a run yet either.

"Tom Opacic was good, I thought Enari (Tuala) was good. Javid (Bowen) was good so there's a bit of healthy competition.

Kurt Wiltshire and Murray Taulagi suffered knee injuries, with Wiltshire the major concern, and Baptiste has a hamstring issue.

Taulagi is expected to be unavailable for Round 1 and forward Corey Jensen is set to miss this weekend's trial after suffering an ankle injury

"Kurt (Wiltshire) probably the worst of them, but until we get scans we don't really want to speculate how bad it is," Green said.

"Corey picked up an ankle injury, but I don't think it's too bad.

"We'll see how he (Jensen) goes, there's no need to push it for the trial.

"He was pretty strong for what he did in the game, condition-wise he was in pretty good shape.

"We won't risk it for next week."

Green said Clifford had pushed his case for a starting spot alongside Michael Morgan, but Martin still remains firmly in the frame.

"We'll have a look at the game again. Maybe they get a half each (this weekend)," he said.

"I haven't made that decision yet so once we go through the game and see how everyone else is we'll look at it.

"There were some good things about his (Clifford's) game but there were there some things in our team we need to be better at, especially around our last-play options.

"Both him (Clifford) and Te Maire need to be a bit better in that area.

"But there were some pleasing signs, both of them came up with some nice tries and Cliffo kicked reasonably well too."

Green said the Cowboys are still playing catch-up with their pre-season preparations following the region's heavy weather event, which impacted a number of players and put a halt to training.

"We still have a little work to catch up, the training plan has changed a little bit," he said.

"We would have looked to have backed off a little bit this week, so I don't think that's going to be the case."