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Thurston escapes punishment

05/11/2010 08:40:53 PM Comments (0)

The North Queensland Cowboys showed a "lack of backbone" by failing to discipline Johnathan Thurston over his post-season arrest, ex-Test prop Greg Dowling says.

An early morning public nuisance arrest in Brisbane in September was expected to place Thurston's captaincy at the NRL club under immense pressure.

But the playmaker emerged unscathed from a club disciplinary hearing in Townsville on Friday after offering to pay a sum to the Cowboys Community Fund.

North Queensland-based Dowling said the Cowboys had not set a good precedent as they looked to make a fresh start in 2011.

"It was a good opportunity for them to draw a line in the sand, but obviously they lack the backbone to do it," he told AAP.

"Until they do it, the inmates will keep running the asylum."

While recovering from foot surgery, Thurston was charged and locked up in the Brisbane Watchhouse on September 16.

He had reportedly been kicked out of a Brisbane casino for harassing people with his walking crutch and then wrestled on the bonnet of a taxi with a former Brisbane lower grade player.

But in a club statement on Friday, the Cowboys board said they had accepted Thurston's version of events and his "denial of the allegations which appeared in the media."

"Both the club and Johnathan acknowledge that he did not follow protocols set by the club in regard to his injury rehabilitation," the statement said.

"To the extent to which his actions have not reflected his positive work in the community, Johnathan has volunteered to make a meaningful contribution through the Cowboys Community Fund.

"The club and Johnathan consider the matter resolved and offer no further comment, other than that both are now looking positively towards the 2011 season."

Dowling said the Cowboys' decision was "not a good look".

"I just think they have let themselves down again," he said.

"That's been their problem over the last couple of years - discipline or the lack of.

"Looks like it hasn't changed."

The Cowboys had not been adverse to change following a woeful 2010 NRL season in which they only missed out on the wooden spoon due to the salary cap rorting Melbourne Storm.

They have appointed a new CEO - Peter Jourdain - and restructured their coaching support staff.

Dowling said the stage had been set for a new captain like prop Matt Scott to usher the Cowboys into a new era.

"I thought it had been set up for a fresh start under Matt Scott's captaincy," Dowling said.

"That's what they need, they need a fresh start.

"They have put the broom through the training set-up and the board.

"And they needed to show a bit of discipline with their players, but they have failed to do so."

Dowling said he hoped Thurston finally realised that he was a role model and learned from his mistakes.

"That's what you hope, that he takes this on board and never gets into that situation ever again," he said.

Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini said Thurston was never at risk of losing the captaincy on Friday.

"Johnathan was very remorseful....(but) the captaincy was not what we came here to discuss," he told Channel Seven.

Thurston has held the Cowboys reins since 2007.

He is expected to be joined by new recruits Brent Tate and Dallas Johnson and current deputies Scott and Aaron Payne in the Cowboys leadership group for next season.

Cowboys pre-season training starts on Monday.

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