North Queensland have received a huge blow with Michael Morgan set to miss Friday night's NRL season opener against Cronulla in Townsville due to injury.
The Cowboys will not confirm their 17 until an hour before kick-off but it is believed the classy playmaker has succumbed to an abdominal complaint.
He is expected to play their second round blockbuster clash against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Morgan's injury puts a dampener on good mate Johnathan Thurston's 300th NRL game celebrations.
Cowboys co-captain Thurston will also eclipse Matt Bowen's club record 270 game mark.
Te Maire Martin is expected to slot into the halves with Thurston.
Morgan's omission is another injury blow to North Queensland who are already without centre Kane Linnett (pectoral) and fullback Lachlan Coote (hamstring).
Cowboys say Michael Morgan will be available next week and have shot down reports of a 4-6 week injury.— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) March 9, 2018
They line up against a Sharks outfit that are reeling from the loss of backrower Luke Lewis, who injured his ankle at Thursday's captain's run in Townsville.
Lewis is expected to be replaced in the starting back-row by Kurt Capewell.