North Queensland captain Matt Scott is recovering in hospital after suffering a mild stroke on Sunday.
Doctors say the episode is unrelated to rugby league despite the veteran prop starting for the Cowboys in Saturday’s defeat to Newcastle Knights.
The 34-year-old has played 268 games in the NRL and is due to retire at the end of this season.
Scott, who remains in a Brisbane hospital, is expected to make a full recovery but the situation has left the Cowboys’ playing and coaching staff shook up.
“It’s upsetting news, to be honest, and I think everyone’s just processing it at the moment,” coach Paul Green said.
“That’s not what we expected. We knew he was pretty crook coming off the flight, but for it to be what it is, it is quite surprising. I think everyone’s a little bit taken aback by what’s actually happened.
“It started Sunday morning. And then by the time we arrived in Brisbane, he was pretty crook. So we decided to send him to hospital on our stopover from Brisbane.
“I think like all of your players, you build a pretty special relationship with them along the way. It’s similar in some ways, I suppose, to a family – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but in the end it’s always a strong relationship considering what you go through together.”
As mentioned, Scott will retire at the season’s end but with only two games remaining and the Cowboys out of finals contention, the former Queensland and Kangaroos great may have played his last rugby league game.