North Queensland coach Paul Green has backed utility John Asiata to respond in Friday night's NRL clash with St George Illawarra after a tough Tonga Test.
After a night to forget for Tonga, John Asiata has been tipped to produce a display to remember for North Queensland in Friday night's NRL clash with St George Illawarra.
Asiata struggled on Tonga Test debut at five-eighth in their 34-14 loss to New Zealand last week, leaving coach Kristian Woolf to lament his playmaking options after they managed just one try in the first 71 minutes despite dominating possession.
But it was in defence where former Samoan international Asiata really battled, uncharacteristically missing six tackles.
North Queensland coach Paul Green backed the utility to respond when he comes off the bench for an 11th-placed Cowboys side hoping to end a two-match losing streak.
"I like to think so. He certainly cares about the team and it is always team first and he has pride in his performance - hopefully that translates into a good game for us," Green said.
"Some of the things that didn't go his way (for Tonga) were more defensive more than anything else.
"There are some technical things around that. It doesn't matter what position you play.
"He knows what he did wrong and how he could have handled it better but no doubt he will be fine for the game."
Green said the likes of Asiata would need to lift against a Dragons side hoping to remain in the top eight hunt after losing six of their last seven games.
"They're at home on Friday night and they want to get some form on the board for themselves," he said.
"But we're coming off two losses also that you could say they were pretty tough losses.
"We've just got to be a little bit better."
The Cowboys will be without former Test prop Matt Scott who has failed to recover from a shoulder injury suffered in round 11 against Canberra.
"He won't be playing, fingers crossed (he will be playing next game)," Green said.
"He wanted to give it a test out this week but has pulled up a bit sore but it's not re-injured or anything like that."
Meanwhile, the Dragons have ruled out centre Tim Lafai (ankle), replaced by Lachlan Maranta.