Forwards key to shutting down Thurston - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Forwards key to shutting down Thurston

By Tamara McLean 16/05/2009 09:31:14 AM Comments (0)

The Warriors have a plan to fight the huge threat posed by Johnathan Thurston and it has nothing to do with the magician himself.

The hosts reckon the best way to limit to damage done by North Queensland captain and halfback Thurston at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday is to stop the big forwards who pave the way for him.

"I don't think you'd be a league fan if you didn't like watching him play," admitted admiring Warriors coach Ivan Cleary of Thurston's remarkable 38-point haul from two games last weekend.

"But if we watch him play this week, we are in a bit of trouble."

Cleary accepts that an in-form Thurston is guaranteed to play well.

"What we've got to try and do is limit his opportunities and limit his time," he said.

"The best way that's done is stopping the guys like Shane Tronc, Carl Webb and Luke O'Donnell who give him that space."

The Warriors return to action off the bye in 10th place, one spot ahead of North Queensland, who were impressive in beating high-flying St George Illawarra 24-20 last weekend.

Cleary's words were echoed at the Warriors by everyone from halfback legend Stacey Jones through to prop Sam Rapira and centre Jerome Ropati.

"If we want to bring (Thurston) down we have to look at those guys around him," said Ropati, who will be making his 100th appearance for the Warriors.

Five-eighth Nathan Fien, a former Cowboy, said: "JT's performance last weekend was like superman.

"You're not going to stop everything that he creates. That's just not going to happen, but we're going to everything in our power to limit it."

The Warriors are hoping the Auckland weather forecast for more grim, cold and rainy weather will aid them.

"It should work for us. Teams, especially the Cowboys, hate the cold, so we might be able to use that to our advantage," Fien said.

Rapira, returning from injury, jokingly said he wished them the worst. Hypothermia, one journalist suggested. "Hopefully," he answered.

Meanwhile, Cleary said it was competition crunch time for his Warriors.

"We've hit a point where we definitely need some wins," the coach said.

"In all fairness we should be a bit higher but we're not. But it's not far away."

He said the close battles in the last three games, coupled with tough opposition and lots of travel, had made the last month very testing.

But Cleary was confident there would be positive pay off.

"There's been some pretty good football in there," he said.

"Hopefully it will make us better."

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