Cowboys call in understudy for Thurston - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys call in understudy for Thurston

03/12/2008 04:27:38 PM Comments (0)

The "wear and tear" taking its toll on Johnathan Thurston's battered body has led to the North Queensland Cowboys signing former New Zealand Warriors halfback Grant Rovelli as his back-up.

But the Cowboys were keen to stress that they expected a fully fit Thurston when he returned to the NRL club in January after yet more surgery.

Cowboys football manager Dean Lance said there had been no problems with Thurston's groin surgery on Monday and the Test halfback was on track to return on January 12.

But with another long season awaiting Thurston, the Cowboys have snapped up Rovelli for two seasons after being squeezed out of the Warriors' bulging halves stocks.

"(Considering) the amount of football Johnathan plays (and) the wear and tear on his body, it is a bonus for a club to have a quality player that we can rely on if Johnathan - touch wood - is hurt or is in trouble," Lance said.

"(But) JT's groin surgery is nothing serious, it is just a small hernia.

"We are not looking at months and months and months of rehabilitation.

"He'll be ready to go when he gets back to training in the second week of January."

Considering Thurston's injury history - and the fact infamous fitness trainer Billy Johnstone has returned to Townsville - it's no wonder the Cowboys have signed a No.7 understudy.

Thurston is no stranger to the surgeon - he came back a month early from not one but two shoulder reconstructions to play the 2008 NRL season opener.

He then underwent knee surgery in July.

Thurston will only need a month to recover from his latest operation.

Incredibly Thurston picked up the groin complaint in the State of Origin series six months ago but played through the pain - just as he had carried his shoulder injuries through 2007.

He is currently on overseas holiday.

Former Melbourne Storm prop Antonio Kaufusi will be the latest Cowboy to experience Johnstone's punishing sessions after arriving in Townsville on Tuesday.

But Rovelli, 25, will take his time moving from Auckland to the club he played for as a junior due to his pregnant partner Lauren.

"Lauren's due to have our first baby on December 18 so we won't be going anywhere for a while," said Rovelli who hails from the north Queensland town of Mackay.

Rovelli had a year to run on his contract but was granted a release after Stacey Jones' shock return further bolstered the Warriors' halves depth.

"Grant will give us the depth in the halves we have been looking for," Lance said of Rovelli, who played 68 games for the Warriors.

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