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Linnett ruled out for Cowboys

AAP logoAAP 13/09/2016 Steve Zemek and Laine Clark

North Queensland have been struck a blow ahead of their grand final rematch against Brisbane with Kane Linnett ruled out.

The premiership-winning centre will be replaced by Javid Bowen, who'll make just his ninth first-grade appearance, after Linnett failed to overcome a strained calf in time for Friday's semi-final against the Broncos.

Linnett was long odds to be fit for the encounter at 1300SMILES Stadium after going down injured duing Saturday's qualifying final loss to Melbourne.

"It's a big blow. He takes a lot of those tough carries coming out, that's something we will miss, but Jango (Bowen) has got some good footwork and can poke his nose through the line," skipper Johnathan Thurston said.

"We are blessed in that area."

While it's a hurdle to overcome for the Cowboys ahead of the must-win clash, the defending premiers have otherwise enjoyed a good run with injuries this season.

Of the side to take on Brisbane, only Linnett and bench forward John Asiata will be missing from their 2015 grand final winning side.

Meanwhile, Canberra have named Josh Hodgson to take on Penrith in their semi-final on Saturday night despite the fact he remains in serious doubt.

Hodgson rolled his ankle during Saturday's two-point loss to Cronulla and must pass a fitness test on Friday to convince coach Ricky Stuart to allow him to play.

Kurt Baptiste has been named on the bench and will likely slot into the starting hooker role should Hodgson fail in his bid to make the field while Adam Clydsdale could come into the 17.

Blake Austin has also been named to return from a broken hand with the Raiders' five-eighth on Tuesday declaring himself confident of being right to go.

For the Broncos, Tom Opacic (shoulder) has been named to return after missing last Friday's win over Gold Coast.

Jonus Pearson has been named on an extended bench as cover for James Roberts who will head to the judiciary on Wednesday night in an effort to be cleared of a contrary conduct charge for allegedly kicking Ryan Simpkins.

The Panthers have named an unchanged side to take on the Raiders however Moses Leota has been named as 18th man.

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