Despite losing to Manly on Good Friday, Toyota Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston says it was a step in the right direction for North Queensland.
The underdog Cowboys led the Sea Eagles by 10 in the second half at Gosford but eventually lost by five after three Manly tries in the last 13 minutes, including a highly controversial converted try to five-eighth Kieran Foran.
It was the fifth loss in seven starts for North Queensland, who now have their next three games at home, starting with Parramatta on Saturday night.
“We just need to be better to close out those type of games,” Thurston said today.
“Hopefully we can learn from it for this weekend.
"No doubt we’ll need to.
“I was really pleased how we went last weekend attacking-wise.”
Thurston is set to renew his halves combination with Ray Thompson after Robert Lui was dropped back to the Intrust Super Cup for the Northern Pride this weekend.
It’s not a new partnership, however, with the PNG World Cup representative being JT’s regular halves partner from the start of 2011 through to the early weeks of the 2013 competition.
He wore the No.6 in all 25 matches in the ’11 season and then switched to the No.7 for 16 games in ’12.
Used at hooker almost permanently since then, Thompson trained in the halves in Wednesday night’s opposed session at 1300SMILES Stadium.
“I’ve played a lot of football with Ray in the halves so I don’t think too much will change there,” Thurston said.
“We just need him to do his job and when he’s played there before, he’s done that.
“Defensively he’s quite strong.
"He loves getting his head into the tackle and he’s a good talker as well.
“We don’t need him to do too much.
"We just need him to make sure he controls his edge and has good communication there with the boys around him.
“We’re confident he’ll get the job done for us.”