Thurston primed for Warriors NRL test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston primed for Warriors NRL test

Wayne Heming 02/09/2011 12:29:11 PM Comments (0)

The Warriors might boast the hottest halfback prospect in the NRL in Shaun Johnson, but the best No.7 in the business Johnathan Thurston is primed to fire for North Queensland in Saturday's high-stakes clash at Mt Smart Stadium.

With his blistering speed and magical footwork, Johnson is among the most exciting talents in the game.

A strong performance against the Cowboy's Test No.7 Thurston would enhance Johnson's chances of a stunning call-up to partner Benji Marshall in the halves for New Zealand in the Four Nations tournament later this year.

While Johnson is attracting plenty of attention, Thurston has the runs on the board for club, state and country and is a proven big-game player.

Three games into his comeback from a knee injury, suffered in State of Origin III, Thurston says he's ready to step it up as the Cowboys fight to secure a top-four finish.

The Cowboys trained on Friday morning without lock Dallas Johnson, who stayed at home despite passing a concussion test.

Johnson was prepared to play but was still suffering headaches with coach Neil Henry opting to add Kiwi Leeson Ah Mau to his 18-man squad.

Ah Mau was already in New Zealand visiting a sick family member.

A loss for the fifth-placed Cowboys against the Warriors, who sit two spots below them on the ladder, could pitch the Cowboys into a sudden-death situation against Manly in the first round of the finals.

"I know I need to be better for the team. That's why I get picked each week to do my job," said Thurston.

The 28-year-old acknowledged playing the Warriors at home was one of the toughest assignments in the NRL.

"It doesn't get any tougher than a road trip to Auckland," he said.

"I'm sure it's going to be a beautiful night, raining, windy and cold which will be a good test for us mentally and physically.

"We have to turn up with the right attitude otherwise they'll put 50 on us."

Teammate Brent Tate, who joined the Cowboys from the Warriors this year, is wary of his former side.

"I know to go over there and win, you have to play really well," he said.

"We've been a bit patchy and scratchy the last few weeks. I know we're just one good performance away from being at our best and I am hoping this is the week.

"I'm hoping playing a quality team on foreign territory, with our backs against the wall, will bring the best out of us as a group.

"Their side is a very well-balanced group in great form," said Tate who spent three seasons with the Warriors.

"Kevin Locke's been great, Aaron Heremaia, Shaun Johnson, James Maloney, they're all threats.

"They've got the 1-7-9-6 right and firing and you can throw Feleti Mateo into the mix.

"I just really think they've matured as a group and, without a doubt, they're a real force to be reckoned with."

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