Thurston primed for best in NRL finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston primed for best in NRL finals

David Beniuk 07/09/2011 05:28:04 PM Comments (0)

Test halfback Johnathan Thurston has fired a warning to Manly that he can return to his brilliant best for North Queensland's NRL finals campaign.

Dealt a reality check on Tuesday night when he failed to collect a single Dally M point in four matches back from injury, Thurston admits his form needs to be better if the Cowboys are to survive beyond week one.

The superstar playmaker was marooned on the 24 points he had received up until round 16, when voting went behind closed doors.

He missed five games, and the points on offer in them, after injuring his knee in State of Origin III, while the Cowboys have lost three of the four games since his return and surrendered a top four spot.

Melbourne fullback Billy Slater claimed the Dally M medal after a stunning season for the minor premiers.

Asked about his polling, Thurston conceded he was still getting back to his best.

"My form's been not good enough for our team," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"I know I've got a job to do within the team and 16 other blokes do as well.

"It's just about making sure we get a good preparation this week and make sure we don't leave anything in the tank."

Thurston will have the perfect opportunity to show who's boss at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night when he lines up against Dally M rookie of the year and Sea Eagles No.7 Daly Cherry-Evans.

Long time partner in crime, Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen, said Thurston would be primed for a massive game.

"Johnno's Johnno, he's competitive in whatever sport he plays," Bowen told AAP.

"Obviously he'd be pretty (disappointed) but in saying that he got injured and he missed a fair few games at the back of the year and that would have helped him (win the Dally M).

"He's shown (his best) in parts. Just having Johnno out there is obviously a big boost for the boys.

"I'm sure Johnno will just play his own game and not be worried about Daly and I'm sure Daly will be the same.

"He won't be worried about who he's up against."

Thurston said he admired the 22-year-old fellow Queenslander.

"I'm a fan of his," Thurston said.

"He's got a great kicking game, he's got good vision, can tackle, takes the line on so no doubt he's got a big future in the game.

"As a team we certainly need to try to put a bit of pressure on him to limit his opportunities."

The Cowboys, who have promised much in recent years but will play finals football for the first time since 2007, headed into the final round in fifth place and a shot at a Townsville final.

But an 18-6 loss to the Warriors in Auckland shunted them down the ladder into seventh and a sudden death play-off.

"It just goes to show how tight the competition is," Thurston said.

"I think we're one from five in our last month and we were playing for a home semi-final, now we're seventh playing sudden death.

"It's still very exciting, we haven't played semi-finals footy for a long time."

Thurston, who also missed out on the halfback of the year gong to Queensland teammate Cooper Cronk, was philosophical about the main award he has won twice before.

"You need to be on the paddock to get points obviously," he said.

"Billy's a deserved winner there and he's had a great season so I'm very happy for him."

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