NRL finals lure JT through pain barrier - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL finals lure JT through pain barrier

Laine Clark 13/05/2011 06:18:06 PM Comments (0)

The lure of playing NRL finals footy has proven too much for Johnathan Thurston.

Unlike Queensland halves partner Darren Lockyer, Thurston has vowed to remain on club duty throughout the Origin period to try to break the North Queensland Cowboys' four-year finals drought.

While still smarting from backing up from the trans-Tasman Test in North Queensland's 22-8 last round loss to the Dragons, Thurston was adamant he'd make himself available for the Cowboys to keep their finals tilt on track.

"If I'm fit to play, I'll play," Thurston said.

"We haven't played finals football over the last couple of years, so I want our best players on the paddock week-in, week-out, so we've got every chance of playing finals football."

The Cowboys head into Saturday night's Townsville clash with Parramatta in fifth spot on the NRL ladder - rare air for a North Queensland side which has not finished higher than 12th in three years.

They only missed the 2010 wooden spoon thanks to the salary cap-rorting Melbourne Storm.

It's no wonder Thurston wants to keep the Cowboys juggernaut rolling along despite a hectic schedule.

The Cowboys play the Sydney Roosters three days after Origin I on May 25, the New Zealand Warriors three days following game two in June and Newcastle five days after Origin III in July.

"We're travelling okay. It was a bit of a speed bump on the weekend, but we can turn it around this week against the Eels, heading into the bye," Thurston said.

The Cowboys co-captain has also backed teammate Dallas Johnson over incumbent Queensland lock Ashley Harrison for the Maroons Origin team.

Johnson missed out on savouring a record fifth straight Origin series win last year, after taking up a UK Super League contract with the Catalans Dragons.

"He's been playing great football for us and everyone knows what he can do with a Maroon jersey on," Thurston said.

"That's up to the selectors, but he's been there before and Idon't think he's lost a series - he's a good luck charm."

Despite returning to top form, Cowboys teammate Matt Bowen was not sweating on Tuesday's Queensland team announcement in Brisbane.

"That's obviously in the back of my mind but if it comes, it comes - I am not holding my breath," said Bowen, who played the last of his 10 Origins in 2007.

Eels superstar Jarryd Hayne will be out to impress NSW Origin selectors when he returns from a two-week ban for headbutting.

"Jarryd Hayne will want that fullback spot for the Blues, and I am sure he will be looking for a good game," Bowen said.

The Eels might still be smarting from a 30-0 touch-up from the Dragons in their last outing, but they have the wood on North Queensland, winning their past five clashes.

While only one of those victories was at Dairy Farmers Stadium, Thurston said the Cowboys were wary.

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