'Snubbed' player steps up for Cowboys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Snubbed' player steps up for Cowboys

15/07/2009 06:54:57 AM Comments (0)

The "big hole" left by NSW backrower Luke O'Donnell has been filled at the North Queensland Cowboys by a player snubbed by Queensland selectors this year - Carl Webb.

In a major confidence boost for the former Test enforcer, Webb slots into the starting backrow for the injured O'Donnell against Wests Tigers at Leichhardt on Sunday.

In all, it has been a frustrating season for Webb.

Injuries and a quiet season start ensured he began well back in the queue for Queensland Origin selection in 2009.

So when injury did ravage the Queensland side, Maroons selectors opted for the likes of his Cowboys teammate Matt Scott and Canberra giant David Shillington for Wednesday night's Origin III showdown.

But the Cowboys have already seen enough in Webb - back from an ankle complaint - to convince them he is the man to replace O'Donnell in the starting backrow.

O'Donnell has been ruled out for up to five weeks after injuring his knee in last round's 24-4 thumping of the Sharks.

In his return from injury Webb exploded off the bench against Cronulla, racking up more than 100 metres in 13 runs.

With Webb backed by the likes of the recently re-signed Scott Bolton and the experienced Steve Southern, Cowboys assistant Michael Crawley was confident North Queensland had sufficient depth to cover O'Donnell's loss.

"Luke leaves a big hole in our side," Crawley said.

"Luke plays 80 minutes and we need guys who can play long minutes - but some of our guys have done that in the past."

At least O'Donnell will return this season.

The Cowboys are just getting their heads around the fact that vice-captain and inspirational hooker Aaron Payne will miss the rest of the season with a pectoral tear.

He also went down in the Sharks showdown and underwent surgery late last week.

Anthony Watts has been handed the No.9 jersey as Payne comes to terms with his lengthy rehabilitation.

"Hopefully I only miss the rest of the year and I am right to go at the start of next year," Payne said.

"Probably the most disappointing part about finding out that I need the operation was just the fact that I won't be playing finals footy, because I really believe the boys will be there this year."

Payne also issued a sobering warning to their rivals.

"I think the boys would admit that we are still not playing our best footy but we are in the eight," he said.

"If they can really get to their best footy they are going to be a tough team to beat.

"I really think the boys can win the premiership and I really hope they do."

Travis Burns has returned from a knee niggle and will play off the bench, likely to share hooking duties with Watts.

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