Toyota Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston says the full extent of how much the North Queensland team has changed under new head coach Paul Green won’t be seen until the 2014 season begins next weekend.
Two pre-season trial victories and a win in the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines has added to a buoyant mood at Cowboys HQ and it was evident again at today's Corporate Launch attended by 700 guests at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.
Thurston said he was happy to have his thirteenth pre-season as a first grade footballer behind him and next Saturday night’s home clash with Canberra would be a true guide of where the Cowboys sit at the start of the new season.
“We’ve been putting different structures in place from the coaching staff and we’ve been training really hard to execute those,” the champion five-eighth said.
“We’ve still got a lot to learn and we still need to execute those plays better.
“If we can do that, hopefully we’ll give ourselves a chance of winning next week.
“For us, the pre-season has been about working hard and putting those structures in place.
“It’s been a tough pre-season and we’re glad it’s over.
"We’re down to business now.”
Thurston said there had been so much change to the Cowboys on and off the field that he feels like he’s at a new club in 2014.
“There’s a really good vibe out there at the moment,” he said.
“It feels like when I first moved here.
“The whole place is really fresh.”
Today’s corporate launch, hosted by the Footy Show’s Daryl Brohman, included speeches from club chairman Laurence Lancini and Toyota’s Northern Region manager Tim Easy, plus Q&As with coach Paul Green, co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston and NRL squad members Brent Tate, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Ray Thompson, Jason Taumalolo and Kyle Feldt.
There was a special tribute to one of the men behind the Cowboys from the early years, Kevin Muspratt, who passed away earlier this month, and an inspirational presentation from adventurer Justin Jones.