Tough 2008 put strain on Thurston: Henry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tough 2008 put strain on Thurston: Henry

By Laine Clark 19/05/2009 07:23:40 PM Comments (0)

If his recent heroics for North Queensland were not obvious enough, Cowboys coach Neil Henry spelt it out on Tuesday - Johnathan Thurston is back.

And while he didn't quite say "I told you so", Henry clearly believed his Cowboys skipper's remarkable form resurgence was only a matter of time.

The North Queensland halfback has not looked back since helping inspire Australia's Anzac Test win over New Zealand at Brisbane this month, steering a revitalised Cowboys to four wins in five NRL games.

It sets the stage for an intriguing showdown with an in-form Newcastle Knights at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Monday night.

"His confidence has come back," a beaming Henry said of Thurston.

But it wasn't so long ago that Thurston was the talk of the NRL - for all the wrong reasons.

At one stage Thurston looked a real chance of being usurped on the representative scene by Gold Coast playmaker Scott Prince after a slow start to 2009.

But Henry was confident his prized No.7 would bounce back to his best after overcoming his toughest opponent yet - the rigours of a demanding 2008 program.

"People underestimate the length of his season (last year)," Henry said.

"He had a World Cup, he had (hernia) surgery in December and a month off then - he didn't come back to training until mid-January.

"He was back playing football after only a four week preparation.

"Now the others (Cowboys) had been training since the first of November.

"Really at the start of the season he was like 'it's come around quickly' and it really has for those rep players.

"I think you will find a number of those (rep) players had slow starts (to the season) - Darren Lockyer was the same."

While not yet in the top eight, the Cowboys (9th; 5-5 record) are one of the form sides thanks to their winning run under Thurston.

However, Henry conceded their momentum could be stalled by a dreaded Monday night home clash.

"Monday night is difficult because it seems like all the football is over, you are waiting forever for the game to come," Henry said.

"But I think it will be good for us to have a bit of a break - it will ensure we get our preparation right."

The Cowboys have been vocal critics of being allocated Monday night games in the past.

Their home crowds boast a lot of out-of-towners - people who can't make the big trip to Townsville if it is on a work night.

Henry expects that trend to continue when they run out against the Knights.

"They rotate all the Monday nights around all the clubs, but it is difficult for us because a large proportion of our supporters travel to come to our games - more so than other clubs," Henry said.

"So the crowd probably will be down.

"But we have had success lately. So hopefully we get a few more from the Townsville region that don't usually come to a Saturday night.

"There's nothing else to do on a Monday night, surely."

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