North Queensland captain Jason Taumalolo has been omitted from Sunday's clash with Canterbury after fracturing his hand at training.
It's the second time in as many months the powerhouse forward has sustained the injury, this time to the opposite hand.
The Cowboys skipper is expected to be sidelined for further one-to-three weeks with off-season recruit Lachlan Burr starting in his place, while Mitchell Dunn comes onto the bench.
After a dramatic first win of the season finally eased some tension at the club, North Queensland have a chance to make it two in a row for the first time since round three last year when they host Canterbury.
The Cowboys held on for a 34-30 victory over Wests Tigers last Sunday, spluttering their way to the finish line after a terrific opening half in which they scored five tries.
They have won seven of their past nine games against the Bulldogs but coach Todd Payten was wary of a Canterbury side desperate to earn their first win in 2021.
"We just need to put pressure on the other team and not on us again," Payten said.
"They'll (Canterbury) jump out of the blocks and be desperate; they've got some quality players throughout their team, a young half who's steering around pretty well ... some threats on the edge.
"My focus and our focus has purely been on us and how we go about it at the start of the game."
Cowboys flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, whose fine individual try got them rolling against the Tigers, is also in the injury ward after having surgery on his ankle.
Justin O'Neill makes his return from a head knock in Sunday's game against the Bulldogs, in Tabuai-Fidow's place.
Payten said it was disappointing to lose Tabuai-Fidow just as the speedster was beginning to settle into his role.
"I thought he was finding his feet well in the centres and scored one brilliant try," he said.
"He's a point of difference for us so disappointing for him but that's our sport, you get injured, you've got to apply yourself with the rehab and he'll be coming back and needs to get things right."
For the Bulldogs (0-5) the trip north is make or break for their season, having conceded 174 points in five matches.
Coach Trent Barrett will be without skipper Josh Jackson who suffered a torn calf in training, with English forward Luke Thompson replacing him at lock.
Halfback Lachlan Lewis will have to wait another week to make his NRL return after not being cleared from the concussion he suffered in round four against South Sydney.
The Bulldogs have not won in Queensland since May 2019.