Thurston injury gives halfbacks a chance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston injury gives halfbacks a chance

11/04/2010 03:05:24 PM Comments (0)

Australia coach Tim Sheens has challenged halfbacks in the NRL to stand up and be counted should Johnathan Thurston be ruled out of next month's ANZAC Test.

The North Queensland skipper is in serious doubt for the May 7 Test against New Zealand after dislocating his shoulder in the Cowboys' 23-16 loss to the Tigers in Townsville on Saturday night.

He has also damaged his rotator cuff and looks certain to spend a lengthy spell on the sidelines, although exactly how long won't be determined until Thurston has scans on Monday.

Sheens said it would be disappointing to lose the star playmaker, but said the depth of halves in the competition meant the No.7 spot was wide open.

"That will be disappointing for him given the form (he's) in for the Australian side as well, Queensland too," Sheens said.

"I'm sure there are other options there that will step up, Australia always produces players that can step up.

"I'm sure Princey (Scott Prince) and Cooper (Cronk) will both be working hard and any other halfback for that matter.

"There's some good halfbacks in the comp at the moment, young (Mitchell) Pearce and so are all playing pretty well."

Sheens was not willing to write Thurston off just yet however, and will wait for reports from the Cowboys before starting to run his eyes over replacement options.

"I respect the Cowboys to do their thing first," he said.

"We'll wait until his scans and things first before we react ... there's no use jumping the gun until we see exactly what the scans show.

Thurston's injury was just one in a bruising encounter between the two clubs, with the skipper also left writhing in agony early in the game when the full force of Englishman Gareth Ellis' knee jammed into his groin.

Tigers halfback Tim Moltzen has been ruled out for the season after suffering a complete tear in his anterior cruciate ligament as well as a lateral ligament tear while teammate Todd Payten suffered a calf injury.

Gareth Ellis had his nose broken and a tooth dislodged when teammate Bryce Gibbs collected him high when the pair were trying to make a tackle.

Cowboys hooker Aaron Payne also faces scans, but early indications are the ankle injury he picked up late in the game may prove serious and could cost him a large chunk of his season.

North Queensland coach Neil Henry said both coaches would be sent back to the drawing board with none of the injured players likely to be able to play in round six.

"It looks like JT's got a rotator cuff problem in his shoulder, it could be a little bit serious," he said.

"Aaron Payne could have a pretty serious ankle injury as well too.

"Both coaches I suppose are lamenting those injuries as part of the game.

"Losing JT certainly is a big blow for us but I was very happy with how we fought back in the second half."

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