Thurston ready for home ground Test
Wednesday 10 October 2012 5:02 PM
North Queensland co-captain Johnathan Thurston says playing only his second Test match in front of his home fans adds extra significance to Saturday’s Australia v New Zealand clash at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
In his 23-Test career, Thurston has only previously played for the Kangaroos at home in a 2008 World Cup game against Papua New Guinea – a match the Australians won 46-6.
Thurston wore the number seven jersey on that night, but this time around he has the number six after taking over at five-eighth from the retired Darren Lockyer following last season’s Four Nations tournament.
And while there were 16,239 at Dairy Farmers four years ago, Saturday night’s match will be played in front of a sellout 26,000-strong crowd.
Winger Darius Boyd, hooker Cameron Smith and forward Paul Gallen are the only other members of the 2008 line-up who will be back for the first Trans-Tasman Test in North Queensland.
“I’m very excited. I’ve got family here for the game,” Thurston said prior to the Kangaroos’ training run at Brothers Leagues Club on Wednesday morning.
“It’s always a pleasure to run out in front of the North Queensland fans and this will be no different.
“I’m wearing the green and gold jersey and I’m very proud of that.
“It’s a sold out stadium and it’s going to be something special for the team to enjoy.
“Hopefully there’s going to be a lot of green and gold there.”
Thurston said he expects the Kiwis to test the home team in the middle via their forward pack, headed by grand final props Jesse Bromwich and Sam Kasiano with back-up from the Warriors’ Ben Matulino and Wests Tigers’ Adam Blair off the bench.
“They’re got some really big boys there that like to control that,” the five-eighth said.
“Hopefully we can turn them around, have a good kicking game and do our best to limit their momentum.”
Manly forward Tony Williams, who didn’t finish Tuesday’s training session due to a tight hamstring, took part in Wednesday’s run and should be okay to take his place against the Kiwis.
The Kangaroos fine-tuned some of their attacking and defensive strategies in an opposed session against the Junior Kangaroos who have also been in Townsville this week ahead of playing the Junior Kiwis in the main curtain-raiser on Saturday.
New Zealand’s senior team made the short trip south from Cairns on Wednesday afternoon and will head out to visit some local schools on Thursday.
Both teams will have closed training sessions at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Friday.