Cowboys anticipate Campese NRL comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys anticipate Campese NRL comeback

Wayne Heming 02/06/2011 03:22:48 PM Comments (0)

Stand-in centre Gavin Cooper says North Queensland expect to face a surprise Terry Campese comeback for Canberra as they try to snap a four-year NRL losing trot in the nation's capital on Sunday.

Campese has not been named in coach David Furner's squad.

"We're confident in the halves we've got at the moment, and we don't need to rush Campo back until he's completed a few more training sessions and had all the clearances from our medical staff," Furner said during the week.

Despite Furner's assurances that Campese would not play, Cooper said the Cowboys had prepared for his shock return from major knee surgery.

Cooper added it would not surprise if both Campese and Test and State of Origin forward Dave Shillington turned out for action.

Even if they didn't, Cooper said the Raiders, coming off back-to-back wins, would still be boosted by the inclusion of 112kg giant forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, primed to make a last-minute push for Origin selection.

"We're preparing for him (Campese) to play. He's not named so I guess we'll find out more an hour before kick-off," said Cooper, filling in for Willie Tonga (shoulder) in the centres for a few weeks.

"If Shillo (Shillington) plays, they'll be even better again."

Canberra are a big, robust side but North Queensland have some size of their own to push the Raiders around.

"They've got some big boys but we've got some big boys in Jimmy (James Tamou), Scotty (Matt Scott), Bolts (Scott Bolton), Leeson (Ah Mau) and Ashton (Sims) off the bench, so we're no small team by any stretch of the imagination," said Cooper.

Cooper, who's playing out of position, will have his hands full with Joel Thompson, a 97kg back-rower converted to the centres.

"You've got Jarrod Croker on one side and Joel Thompson on my side. He's a big boy and he's very strong."

Cooper warned Josh Dugan would also be looking to convince NSW selectors to stick with him for Origin II with a dominant game at fullback.

"He's very dangerous running off their halves," said Cooper.

"Coming back from Origin, too, he'll grow another leg."

Meanwhile, Cooper said Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston had proved beyond doubt he was the best player in the game, finding the energy to back up from Origin at the weekend when physically and mentally exhausted.

"I don't know if you blokes (media) noticed, but we could see it on the field," he said.

"He was rattled (against the Sydney Roosters). He had not much energy but he'd find a way to turn up for all the plays and make all his tackles.

"The competitor that he is, he turns up every week and doesn't want to let the team down.

"When Braith Anasta made a break down the left of the field, he looked like he had nothing left, but still found an extra gear to chase him down."

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