Thurston set to return in NRL showdown - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston set to return in NRL showdown

Wayne Heming 08/08/2011 05:24:52 PM Comments (0)

Johnathan Thurston is on target to make an early return when North Queensland attempt to spoil record breaker Darren Lockyer's party in Friday night's big NRL showdown in Townsville.

The champion halfback is expected to be named in the fourth-placed Cowboys team on Tuesday and he faces further fitness testing before a final decision on whether he plays in the key clash with third-placed Brisbane.

But there's growing confidence Thurston will be back after he did some encouraging contact training on Monday.

It would be his first match since suffering medial ligament damage in a sickening collision during Queensland's State of Origin series-deciding win on July 6.

"We're preparing as if JT (Thurston) is playing," said Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin.

Accommodation in Townsville is booked out for Friday's match with both teams trying to protect prized top four spots and Broncos skipper Lockyer set to break the competition record by playing his 350th game, moving past Terry Lamb and Steve Menzies.

Brisbane have their own injury concerns with representative prop Ben Hannant ruled out on Monday while they're monitoring a nasty facial injury to goal kicking lock Corey Parker.

Scans found a small tear in Hannant's hip muscle with the best case scenario being three weeks on the sidelines.

News that Thurston may play should see fans snap up the last 5000 tickets for the 25,500-capacity Dairy Farmers Stadium match.

Thurston is rated a better chance of playing than prop Matt Scott who continues to be plagued by back pain.

The injury kept Scott on the sidelines last weekend when the Cowboys lost to the Bulldogs and threatens to keep him out of one of the biggest games in Townsville since they entered the competition in 1995.

Winger Kalifa Faifai Loa who also missed the Bulldogs game with a hamstring injury trained on Monday, improving his chances of a recall.

Cowboys coach Neil Henry has told his players they can't expect fullback Matt Bowen to continue carrying them with his outstanding form in Thurston's absence.

"We've ridden on the back of Matty Bowen's performances for the last three or four weeks and he had a quiet night (against the Bulldogs)," Henry said.

"We can't rely on Mango to be our main attack and be our sole focus with the kicking game."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news