A target has no doubt been put on Ethan Lowe's back, with North Queensland admitting the back-rower cannot afford too many more knocks to his injured eye in Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne.
Ethan Lowe of the Cowboys is tackled during the NRL preliminary final match between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Cowboys assistant David Fairleigh gave his side a clean bill of health yesterday before they flew out to Sydney but not before dropping his guard on Lowe's condition.
Lowe is still sporting a shiner on his right eye from last weekend's preliminary-final win over the Sydney Roosters.
"I am not sure if he can afford to take too many more knocks to his eye," Fairleigh admitted.
Lowe is a member of the Cowboys' walking wounded that also includes John Asiata (broken hand), Antonio Winterstein (ribs) and Coen Hess (knee).
However, Fairleigh said no one would be put at risk in Sunday's season decider.
"He (Lowe) is right to play. He's been given clearance from our medical staff," he said.
"You obviously don't want to re-aggravate it.
"But if there was any serious risk or anything they were concerned about, he wouldn't play."
Lowe, who also takes on goalkicking duties, has played down the eye-socket complaint.
"The eye is fine. It is a bruise and a black eye - nothing too bad," he told AAP.
"I am not too worried. It looks a lot worse than it is."
But no doubt the Storm will have Lowe in their sights thanks to a candid Fairleigh.
The Cowboys' assistant also brushed aside concerns for Asiata's plastic hand guard that he has been sporting for three weeks ago since breaking it in their opening finals win over Cronulla.
It is believed the NRL must approve the hand protection before the grand final, just like it did for Brisbane prop Shane Webcke's guard that shielded his broken arm in the 2000 season decider.
"He has played with it the last three weeks and his guard is exactly the same for the grand final," Fairleigh said.
"If you actually feel it, it is quite soft on the outside so I don't think it will be an issue at all."
Asiata has played through the pain despite suffering a fresh break in last weekend's upset of the Roosters.
Fairleigh did not expect it to slow the barnstorming prop down in Sunday's big game.
"He's gone well the last few weeks. He has been fantastic for us - I don't see him going any different," he said.
"He has probably played his best footy with a broken hand.
"It probably isn't even broken. It's just an excuse not to change his (three- week-old) baby's nappies!"
After relying on other results to scrape into the finals, North Queensland can become the first eighth-placed team to win the NRL title.
It is the third grand final in North Queensland's history but Fairleigh reckons this one is extra special.
"I guess what we have gone through, the adversity, the highs and lows, but we have all stuck together strong and never stopped believing what we could achieve," he said.
"This one's really special."