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Cowboys urged to axe Thurston as captain

16/09/2010 05:16:59 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland Cowboys officials have been urged to dump Johnathan Thurston as captain to improve the culture of the embattled NRL club.

Former Test prop Greg Dowling, a proud North Queenslander, has also suggested the superstar halfback should be overlooked for Australia's Four Nations campaign due to a lack of professionalism.

Thurston cut an embarrassed and contrite figure as he flew back into Townsville on Thursday after spending the early hours of the morning in the Brisbane Watchhouse.

The 27-year-old faces a major fight to keep the Cowboys captaincy after being told he must front the club's furious board to explain his actions.

At a time he was racing to be fit to return from foot surgery to make the Kangaroos squad, Thurston found himself locked up on a public nuisance charge following a big night out.

Reportedly out drinking with fellow Cowboys back Willie Tonga, the playmaker was ejected from the Treasury Casino for hassling patrons with one of his crutches.

Police then arrested him after he wrestled with former Brisbane Norths Queensland Cup player Nathan Daly on the street and failed to follow orders.

"I'm embarrassed and ashamed about the whole incident but I'm going to talk to the club about it and take it from there," Thurston told reporters at Townsville Airport.

"I shouldn't have put myself in the position and I apologise for that.

"We should be talking about the finals this weekend.

"We shouldn't be talking about my little hiccup."

But the apology didn't cut any ice with Dowling who said the incident should be the last straw for the Cowboys.

He took aim at the two-time Dally M medal-winner for creating a poor culture at the club who have failed to make the NRL finals in the past three seasons under his leadership.

"I think they should take the captaincy off him," he told AAP. "They need to change their culture - the culture in the club lets them down and that's a good example of it.

"The guy should be looking after his injuries.

"We have a Four Nations tournament at the end of the year and having your club captain locked up overnight for drunk and disorderly and they said they arrested him to save him from himself."

Dowling said Queensland prop Matt Scott would be a perfect skipper but he believed the Cowboys feared they would lose Thurston if they stripped him of the captaincy.

"I have no doubt that's what their fear is and if that's the case they should be saying `close the door behind you on your way out'," he said.

"Five years ago they were in a grand final and they have gone downhill ever since."

The Cowboys also apologised to NRL stakeholders for the incident and expressed their disappointment in Thurston's "unbecoming" behaviour.

NRL boss David Gallop said the league was satisfied with the Cowboys handling of the matter.

"Johnathan's actions were more foolish than malicious and highlight the need for all players, especially those who hold senior positions of responsibility, not to put themselves in that position in the first place," Gallop said.

Test selector Des Morris said Thurston's actions were disappointing but shouldn't be a factor in selection, which should occur just days before he faces court on October 6.

League immortal Arthur Beetson said Thurston needed to realise he was an important role model and set a better example for indigenous children.

Ironically, he spent the night in Brisbane after failing to get a direct flight home following Wednesday's "honour" of launching public voting for next year's NRL Indigenous All-Stars exhibition match.

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