The Canberra Raiders are sweating on a clearance for star forward pairing Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine, whose absence threatens to be a huge dent in a decimated pack.
Canberra is still waiting to find out whether the two players will be allowed to travel to Townsville to play the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday without an influenza vaccination.
The Queensland government made the flu shot mandatory for NRL players to train and play in the Sunshine State when the competition rebooted in May.
The Raiders submitted an exemption request for Papalii and Tapine to travel last week but are yet to receive clearance. They're likely to be named in Ricky Stuart's 21 to face North Queensland regardless as the Green Machine battles a mounting injury crisis.
Raiders legend Alan Tongue says the loss of Papalii and Tapine would leave a massive dent in the already decimated roster if they're not allowed to enter Queensland this weekend.
"That puts a huge dent, it really does when you think of the contribution that Papalii and Tapine have been through the middle," Tongue said.
"It's going to be a really big shuffle and I don't know where you can go from there.
"You still need your big men like Papalii in the middle but you can play a style of footy where moving the ball around the game as fast as it is, the smaller guys can play.
"A Brandon Smith for example is not your typical front-rower in a rugby league content, but you can play a smaller body type playing bigger minutes so backrowers can probably push up into the front row.
"What Josh Papalii has brought week-in, week-out for the side you can never underestimate. That would be a huge concern I think if those guys don't make the trip."
MORE CANBERRA SPORT
Canberra recruit Corey Harawira-Naera received clearance from the Project Apollo committee on Monday to enter the Raiders' NRL bubble.
He'll be assessed by the club's medical staff and expected to join the team for his first training session on Tuesday morning.
A decision will then be made by coaching staff if he's fit to face the Cowboys in round 12.
The New Zealand international signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Raiders on Friday and Tongue is excited about his future in the capital.
"He's a great player. He's a strong back-rower who is a bit like Elliott [Whitehead] and can handle that centre position," Tongue said.
"He runs a great line, is aggressive and is another big man to have out there. He'll add plenty and one of the great things is, I said g'day to him at last weekend's game, he knows what he's in for now, too.
"He knows what's expected of him when he pulls on the green jersey. He has great skills and to put him in the system and culture with those expectations, I think it'll take his game to the next level. I think that's exciting for me as a fan to watch."
NRL ROUND 12
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys at Townsville, 5.30pm.