Thurston in line for Cowboys captaincy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston in line for Cowboys captaincy

By Laine Clark 06/03/2006 05:24:03 PM Comments (0)

Johnathan Thurston is in line to cap a meteoric rise at North Queensland with the captaincy in 2007 after Travis Norton revealed he's to retire at the end of this season.

North Queensland chief executive Peter Parr said Norton's decision had stunned the NRL club.

"It was a surprise. We were going to sit down halfway through the year to see how his body was feeling but he had already made up his mind - we respect that," he said.

"Travis has done the right thing by the club.

"We can now start putting some things in place so we can start planning for life after him."

Thurston is tipped to step into the 29-year-old's shoes at the end of 2006 thanks to his Midas touch since arriving at North Queensland in 2005.

Twelve months ago Thurston, 22, was preparing to make his Cowboys debut after helping to win the 2004 NRL premiership as a bench regular for the Bulldogs.

Now he's being groomed as a skipper after a superb 2005 season in which he made his Origin debut for Queensland and earned the Dally M Medal and Halfback of the Year double.

As a reward, Thurston was named as the 2006 Cowboys vice-captain following the departure of experienced prop Paul Rauhihi to English club Warrington.

But Thurston was more concerned with giving Norton a proper send-off than taking over from him as captain.

"It (captaincy) is something I haven't thought about," he said.

"If the coach does ask me, well, I'll just wait and see if it happens - I'm not too worried about it at the moment."

Thurston said Norton had opted for a low-key retirement announcement.

"He just let a few of the boys know. He hasn't made a big fuss out of it - that's the sort of person he is," he said.

"It was a surprise. I thought he had a couple of good years still left in him.

"I'm sure all the boys will be sad to see him leave. He's very important to our club."

Norton's final season begins against arch-rivals Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

On paper, Brisbane appear vulnerable due to key injuries and erratic pre-season form.

In contrast, the Cowboys were in ominous pre-season form with Thurston, Ty Williams and Matt Bowen the standouts.

However, Thurston said they would still be "very wary" of Brisbane who have only lost once to North Queensland since the Cowboys' 1995 inception.

"They have had the wood on us in the last couple of seasons and they will always be tough," he said.

The Cowboys ensured their credibility by backing up their 2004 preliminary final appearance with a tight 2005 grand final loss to the Wests Tigers.

And Thurston said it was good that teams were taking North Queensland seriously.

"There's no pressure. We know what we have to do to win," he said.

"I think it's good that other teams are taking notice of us."

Meanwhile, Parr said the Cowboys would concentrate on sending Norton out on a high.

"It's great that he is going out on his own terms," he said.

"We've just got to do everything we can to make sure that he goes out in a way that fits his tremendous career."

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