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North Queensland's crushing loss to the Sydney Roosters has been compounded by a suspected ACL injury to centre Javid Bowen.
Bowen was attempting a catch-and-pass in the second half at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday when his right knee clashed with Roosters winger Matt Ikuvalu.
The 28-year-old crumpled to the ground in agony before being taken from the field in a medicab.
"He's upset. He's really upset," Cowboys coach Todd Payten said of the injury post-game.
"He's going to be out for an extended period. It's not looking good for him. I think it's the worst."
The injury blow comes just days after star Valentine Holmes was ruled out for a month with a grade-three AC joint problem suffered during Queensland's upset win over NSW in State of Origin III.
Bowen's exit left the Cowboys with no choice but to plug hooker Jake Granville in the centres for the rest of the contest, however Payten refused to use the injury as an excuse.
"We have trained with Jake Granville out in the centres a few times in the last couple of months. He's also played there at different times through injury," Payten said.
"Jake, he's going to give you everything no matter what position he is on the field. It upset our rhythm a little bit, but it's no reason to come away with a loss."
Fresh from making his Origin debut last week, young star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow produced arguably the best performance of his career with a mammoth 257-metre outing.
And while it wasn't enough to prevent the Cowboys from slumping to their fifth straight loss, Payten found plenty of positives in his new spine, including halves Tom Dearden and Scott Drinkwater.
"Tommy, that was his best game to date, and it was off the back of his running game," Payten said.
"He's far more effective and his biggest threat is his run, not his pass. When he can (identify) the ruck, he can get on the front foot and take the line on. I thought he done that really well.
"The challenge for us as a team is just our game awareness and patience. We love to score points every set. And it's a big play mentality which has been a challenge for us."