Thurston ruled out for Dragons trial
Friday 15 February 2013 7:34 PM
Co-captain Johnathan Thurston will have to wait at least another week to play his first game of 2013 for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys after being withdrawn from the squad to face St George Illawarra in Cairns on Saturday night.
A nagging hand injury sustained in last weekend’s Harvey Norman All Stars game in Brisbane is still giving the five-eighth some concern, but he is in no doubt for the round one NRL meeting with Canterbury on 9 March.
JT trained away from the match day squad with Brent Tate and Matthew Bowen at a steamy Barlow Park on Friday afternoon.
It’s likely that all three will be in action in their club’s final pre-season hitout against the Gold Coast Titans in Mackay next weekend.
With Thurston out, Robert Lui is likely to return to the starting halves alongside Michael Morgan, with Ray Thompson as back-up on the interchange bench in his return from shoulder and groin surgery.
The Cowboys will now use 21 players against the Dragons, who are expected to give playing time to all of the 25 players they brought to Cairns.
“His hand is a little bit sore. He’s still got a bit of a bandage on it from the All Stars game,” coach Neil Henry said of Thurston.
“It’s best that he rests it and we’ll see how he is for next week.
“We’ve decided not to risk it because of the soreness.”
Henry said Thompson, who has played almost all of his NRL matches at either five-eighth or halfback, would have a run at hooker and in the halves.
“It will be a bit of a rotation there with those guys,” he said.
Almost 5,000 tickets have been sold for the pre-season trial which will be preceded by a clash between the Cowboys’ NYC squad and the Northern Pride’s Intrust Super Cup team.
If there’s fine weather on the night, a crowd of up to 10,000 could jam into the home of the Cairns District Rugby League.
“We've had some great crowds over the years here,” Henry said.
“It’s an annual event for the club to come up here and it’s well supported by the locals.”
Saturday night’s game kicks off at 5.30pm and tickets will be available at the gate.
For score updates, follow us on Twitter @nthqldcowboys.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys: 1 Clint Greenshields, 2 Wayne Ulugia, 3 Antonio Winterstein, 4 Curtis Rona, 5 Kalifa Faifai Loa, 19 Robert Lui, 7 Michael Morgan, 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Scott Moore, 10 James Tamou, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Glenn Hall, 13 Dallas Johnson. Interchange: 14 Ray Thompson, 15 Kyle Feldt, 16 Tariq Sims, 17 Jason Taumalolo, 18 Ashton Sims, 20 Joel Riethmuller, 21 Scott Bolton, 22 Ricky Thorby.