North Queensland will take a cautious approach with former Test prop Jordan McLean as they wait to have their best side back at their disposal.
McLean was close to returning from a calf injury for Friday night's NRL clash with Manly but interim coach Josh Hannay has opted to give him another week.
The star front-rower hasn't played since he went down in the club's round-seven win over Newcastle at the end of last month.
His absence comes as another blow to the Cowboys' pack, with John Asiata also still missing with a knee injury and the club having lost six of their past seven.
"Jordan is unfortunately still a week away," Hannay said.
"We just really want to err on the side of caution with Jordan.
"We would have loved to have him back this week. We would have loved to have him back a month ago.
"When we get him back we want to make sure he is back for the long haul. The last thing I want is to have him back for a week and then out for a month."
It means he remains sidelined alongside halves Michael Morgan and Scott Drinkwater, with Valentine Holmes also out long term.
Morgan is expected to return in three weeks, while Drinkwater is a month away and Holmes' season is potentially over with his ankle injury.
"We've got some cattle coming back over the next three or four weeks," Hannay said.
"When they all get back on the park I want them to be able to stay on the park and have our best team on the park."
Hannay said he felt at home in charge of the team, having taken on more responsibilities from the axed Paul Green in recent years.
He began his coaching career with Souths Logan in the Queensland Cup in 2014 before joining the Cowboys as Green's assistant in 2017.
"Greeny has been wonderful for me and I have said that several times," Hannay said.
"He's allowed me to blossom and spread my wings over the last 12 months. And call the shots in various sessions.
"So it didn't feel a whole lot different (taking charge this week)."