Knights forward Willie Mason was outstanding against the Sharks last week in the emotional 30-0 win.
Knights forward Willie Mason was outstanding against the Sharks last week in the emotional 30-0 win. GETTY IMAGES

Cowboy Matt Scott worried about the Mason effect

RUGBY LEAGUE: North Queensland prop Matt Scott knows something about playing on emotion.

It's why he fears rival forward Willie Mason will be a handful in Townsville on Monday night as Newcastle continues to be fuelled by the heartbreak of teammate Alex McKinnon's career-ending neck injury.

The Knights crushed Cronulla 30-0 at Hunter Stadium at the weekend on "Rise for Alex" day in a message to the 22 year-old footballer, still in a Melbourne hospital after breaking his neck in a tackle that went horribly wrong in a game against the Storm last month.

Scott played a State of Origin game a few days after his mother, Dianne, died of cancer in 2012.

His Queensland and Cowboys teammates rallied around him.

While the whole Newcastle club rose to the occasion for the injured McKinnon last Sunday, Scott said it was clear that Mason appeared to take control of the on-field leadership, leading the way into the teeth of Cronulla's defence time and time again.

"They're obviously riding on a fair bit of emotion and I expect them to still be riding that with Willie again leading the way," Scott said.

"Willie has shown through his career he's a big bloke who can really lift a side. I thought he was very inspirational for them on the weekend. He's such a big character, he's very hard to handle."

The 28-year-old warhorse said there wouldn't be a single person who didn't feel for McKinnon, his family or the whole Knights community.

"It's a scary situation. It gives you goosebumps," Scott said.

Like a majority of players who have expressed a view, Scott said he didn't think the tackle which led to McKinnon's serious injury was anything more than an accident. "It was a bit of a freak accident and thankfully it's not the thing that happens too often," he said.

While rookie coach Paul Green believes the Cowboys aren't far off turning things around if they can eliminate their errors, Scott acknowledged the Cowboys may need to look at some different attacking options rather than using Johnathan Thurston on almost every key play. The 167-game veteran said opposition sides were always going to target Thurston, just as the Cowboys turned their attention to the opposition's playmaker.

"With teams putting some much focus of Johnno I suppose there is an opportunity for Robbie (Lui) to do something on the other side," Scott said.