Party plans in place for Cowboys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Party plans in place for Cowboys

By Laine Clark 03/07/2009 07:30:51 PM Comments (0)

The final piece fell into place for one of the North Queensland Cowboys' biggest nights when backrower Luke O'Donnell was cleared to play the Sharks in Townsville.

Whatever the result, Saturday night's game will be one to remember for the Cowboys - O'Donnell and skipper Johnathan Thurston will be celebrating their 100th games for the club and Aaron Payne his 150th.

But O'Donnell threatened to play the role of party pooper when a knee injury hampered his lead-up to the Cronulla showdown.

The NSW backrower was initially at long odds to overcome the medial ligament strain he picked up in Origin II at Sydney.

O'Donnell only began running again on Tuesday, but he was given the green light by Cowboys medical staff on Friday.

O'Donnell - who was recognised along with Thurston and Payne at a special Cowboys function on Friday - said it was an honour to knock up a club ton.

"I've been fairly lucky, besides that 2007 season where I only played four games," he said, referring to the infamous "wish bone" tackle that threatened his career.

"So I probably could have got there a bit quicker but it's good to have got there and I've enjoyed every minute of it that I've been on the field, so it's good to reach those milestones."

Cowboys boss Peter Parr said the trio should be mentioned "in the same breath" as club legends Paul Bowman, Matt Sing and Matt Bowen.

"Those three guys are legends of this club and to have it all in one night is very rare and makes for a really special occasion," he told Townsville reporters.

While Thurston (Bulldogs) and O'Donnell (Balmain, Wests Tigers) began their careers at other clubs, Payne is a rare breed indeed.

He worked his way up from the Townsville competition into the Cowboys' ranks to earn the club vice-captaincy.

On a special night, centre Willie Tonga - in his first year at the Cowboys - will notch his 100th NRL game.

But O'Donnell said they did not have to be told the Sharks would revel in the role of gate-crashers.

"They've had to win some gritty games, they've hung in there and had to work really hard to try and turn their season around," he said.

"It's a danger game for us and they've got the sort of players in their side that can hurt you, so we are definitely going to be on our toes."

The controversy-plagued Sharks (14th; 5-10 record) won four in a row before losing 19-12 to the Sydney Roosters last week.

The Cowboys (6th; 8-7) have won five of their last seven and are buoyed by their home record, where they've won five straight games.

Their confidence is sky high after also welcoming back Matt Bowen (ribs) and Carl Webb (ankle).

But they will be without pivot Travis Burns (knee) for up to three weeks, replaced by Grant Rovelli.

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