Jason Taumalolo's chances of claiming back-to-back Dally M Medals have been all but killed off after he copped a two-week suspension for a shoulder charge.
The Cowboys' gamble to test out the NRL's new shoulder charge interpretation failed as he was rubbed out for a fortnight for a hit on Alex Glenn at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
Taumalolo would have only missed a week had he accepted the early guilty plea but will now miss his side's next two clashes against Manly and Gold Coast.
As well as stretching the Cowboys stocks in the wake of Matt Scott's season- ending knee injury, it may cost the Kiwi back-rower a chance to contest for the game's highest honour, the Dally M Medal.
Any player who is suspended for a week incurs a three-point penalty in the Dally M count, meaning he will be docked six points.
Taumalolo - last year's joint winner with Cooper Cronk - started the year in superb form, taking a maximum three points in their season-opening win over Canberra and another point after playing a big role in their derby win over the Broncos.
The 23-year-old came up with several big plays in the dying minutes, charging down an Anthony Milford field goal attempt before producing two barnstorming runs in the final set of the game to set up Johnathan Thurston's winning one- pointer.
Cowboys coach Paul Green, who represented Taumalolo at the judiciary, argued that he had attempted to wrap his arms around Glenn but the Broncos back-rower had bounced out of the tackle.
The panel of Bob Lindner, Sean Garlick and Tony Puletua however found that his hit satisfied the NRL's new definition of the shoulder charge - that he had made no attempt to use his arms to tackle the ball runner and there was forceful contact.
After criticism and claims of inconsistencies, the NRL in the off-season overhauled the definition of the shoulder charge to remove any criteria that the defender's arm had to be tucked.
On the same night Cowboys co-captain Scott was found not guilty of a shoulder charge on Korbin Sims.
While it would hypothetically free Scott to play this week, it was of no consequence after he suffered a torn ACL in their golden-point win over the Broncos, rubbing him out for the rest of the year.
Taumalolo's suspension means ex-Canberra forward Shaun Fensom is a chance to come into the Cowboys line-up against the Sea Eagles in what could be his club debut.
Fensom was named in Green's 21-man squad on Tuesday with Patrick Kaufusi to take Scott's spot in the starting pack.
"(Kaufusi) has been in our team now for the last couple of weeks and he's been playing pretty well for us," Green said.
"He deserves his chance."