Teenage sensation Kalyn Ponga could be rushed into the North Queensland side for round one after an injury to Antonio Winterstein in the Cowboys' NRL trial against the Wests Tigers.
Winterstein limped off with a right-leg injury after falling awkwardly in the seventh minute of the Cowboys' late 18-16 victory on Friday night at Campbelltown.
Wing partner Kyle Feldt also failed to finish the match due to a second-half concussion, as did Tigers forward Joel Edwards.
Tigers star James Tedesco shone in what was his first match since breaking his jaw in round 23 last year, looking dangerous with every touch in an hour-long stint.
Cowboys pair Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan were also strong performers for the visitors, however Lachlan Coote and Jason Taumalolo showed signs of rust.
Tigers winger David Nofoaluma nabbed a brace on his way to setting up a late 16-12 lead, twice finishing off kicks to the right edge before he too left the field late in the second half.
But a try to Kane Linnett in the 75th minute gave Thurston the game-winning conversion from the sideline, and he then celebrated with a bow to the 2000-strong crowd.
On the same day centre Tim Simona was stood down for an alleged betting scandal, Jamal Idris was quiet in his second game back from his one-year hiatus from the NRL.
With veteran Matt Ballin unlikely to overcome his knee injury in time for the Tigers' season-opener, hooker Matt McIlwrick looked sharp in a first-half effort.
While the Cowboys played their strongest team, the Tigers were without halves Mitchell Moses (ankle) and Luke Brooks (teeth), with both expected to be back in round one.
Winterstein's injury could pave the way for Ponga, who deputised for the left winger last year during the Cowboys' finals series, and was overlooked for the trial against the Tigers.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was happy with the result but disappointed in the team's overall performance in their final pre-season trial.
'Probably not as happy as I would've liked to have been,' he said after the game.
'There were some pleasing things to take out of the game, a couple of things we wanted to try and get out of it. But we were a bit off on some of our basic stuff too.'
Green confirmed Winterstein had hurt his ankle but played down the seriousness of the injury.
'It doesn't seem to be too bad but we'll get it checked out. Don't want to take any unnecessary risks. See what the scans say but, at this stage, it doesn't look too bad,' he said.
Although his team lost, Tigers coach Jason Taylor said the Tigers had improved following last week's trial win over St George-Illawarra, particularly in defence.
'There was a bit of fatigue in that game for us, but tonight was really good,' he said.
'(The Cowboys would) be happy that was a trial game because they let the pressure off us a few times with some simple errors.
'But really happy with the way we defended when they attacked our line. I think we forced a few of those errors as well.'