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Versatile Hampton ready to step in

New North Queensland Toyota Cowboys recruit Ben Hampton reckons going from Johnathan Thurston’s adversary to teammate is one of the best things about his move north.

The young utility got a first-hand look at the champion halfback’s talent and tenacity in last weekend’s thriller against the Broncos, as Thurston sealed the deal with a winning field goal in golden-point extra-time.

Also, at a crucial point late in the match, Thurston came from the other side to effect a turnover-inducing tackle – his cool head in tense situations means the Cowboys are always a strong chance of victory in tight games.

“It’s unreal (JT’s competitiveness) … I’ve watched him for many years now, being down in Melbourne previously and now being able to play alongside a guy like him, you know it’s unbelievable,” Hampton said of his inspirational skipper.

“He’s everywhere on the field and I don’t know how he keeps doing it week in, week out.

“At one time in the game, he was on the other side of the field and the next minute he was tackling Tau Moga over the sideline on his opposite side … we definitely all lift when we see stuff like that.”

Hampton said he expected another tough encounter this Saturday as he prepares for his third game in Cowboys colours, this time against a desperate Manly Sea Eagles team searching for their first win of the season.

But he said his utility value would probably only extend to providing backup to starting hooker Jake Granville and to covering various backline positions, as the Mareeba product rejected a playful suggestion he would provide relief at lock for suspended wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo.

“I don’t think I could carry the ball like Jase,” Hampton joked.

Saturday’s game against Manly at 1300SMILES Stadium kicks off at 8pm.