North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten has confirmed star Queensland Maroons and Australian Kangaroos forward Reuben Cotter is battling a knee problem.

Payten's Cowboys are off to an average start this season, winning just one of their first three games and falling short against the New Zealand Warriors during Round 3.

Despite that, he resisted the urge to make mass changes to any component of his team for Round 4, but has been forced to replace Reuben Cotter, with Griffin Neame to start and Jason Tamou to join the bench.

Payten confirmed Cotter has a knee problem, but will only miss "a week or two."

"Yeah, it is unfortunate. He has got a knee complaint," Payten told the club website on Tuesday afternoon.

"He got through the match and he will be missing a week or two, just depending on how it responds over the coming weeks."

In what was a slice of good news for the Cowboys last weekend, star second-rower Heilum Luki returned from injury, being a late call up for the clash against the Warriors despite being named in the extended reserves list on Tuesday.

His inclusion begins to stem the problems in the second-row for the Cowboys, with recruit Luciano Leilua currently subjected to the NRL's no-fault stand-down rule and unlikely to play at any point during the first half of the season until his case can be heard.

Payten said he was impressed with Luki during his first game back, with the second-rower playing 20 minutes and making 50 metres from 6 runs.

"He [Luki] was really strong as well," Payten said.

"He was a real threat, he is a big body, explosive on the edge and we will be looking to get him some more minutes this weekend."

Luki will again line up on the bench this weekend against the Gold Coast Titans, with that game to kick-off at 5:30pm (AEDT) - 4:30pm (AEST) in Townsville on Saturday afternoon.