North Queensland coach Paul Green has revealed a flu epidemic ripped through his team in the lead-up to the unexpectedly gripping golden point win over Cronulla.
In the last Monday Night Football encounter of the year, a Johnathan Thurston field goal two minutes into overtime piloted the Cowboys into the finals at the end of an epic battle against the guaranteed wooden spooners.
"I didn't make a point of it during the week – last week I haven't mentioned it – but when we got back from Sydney last week, we had a really bad flu go through the team," said Green
"At one stage there, we were considering not training at all, we had so many blokes who had the flu.
"I'm not making any excuses. I didn't think it was a particularly bad performance by us either. We've got to pay some respect to the way Cronulla played.
"But some of the guys out there were really struggling and hadn't done match at all during the week, training wise."
Green did not completely discount complacency as a factor in the cliff-hanger, either.
"The flu means you fatigue a lot quicker and mentally it was a really tough weekend for us to prepare for a game of footy," he said.
"People were talking about us winning by 30 and all of that sort of thing. It's fraught with danger and mentally, the NRL's a tough competition.
"I hate all the talk about 'how much are you going to win by' and 'team of nobodies'. The NRL's a bit harder than that."
Green did not expect the influenza to impact on the blockbuster against Manly on Friday night.
The Cowboys also announced late Monday that Robert Lui had signed a one-year contract extension.