Toyota Cowboys coach Paul Green says returning Johnathan Thurston to North Queensland’s No.7 jersey for the first time in almost three years won’t change too much about how his team plays against South Sydney on Saturday night.

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JT started wearing the No.6 jersey permanently at the beginning of the 2012 season but has been named at halfback – the position he occupied for most of his Cowboys career – this week with Robert Lui at five-eighth.

The move comes after the Cowboys lost Ray Thompson to a hamstring injury for at least the round 16 match at 1300SMILES Stadium and possibly the following week’s trip to Sydney to face St George Illawarra.

“It won’t change how we play a helluva lot, but hopefully wearing the No.7 on his back will provide us with a bit more direction,” Green said of the Thurston change.

“I think it will bring him a bit closer to the action.”

Green described the Cowboys’ current situation – which includes a lengthy injured list - as being “tough” but not unexpected.

“It’s not a crisis. It’s footy,” he said.

“It’s a tough part of the year for us.

“If you look at the draw, even if we had everyone fit and healthy it’d still be a tough part of the year for us.

“It’s the middle of the Origin period, we’ve got a string of games away so we always knew this was going to be a tough period.

"It’s just been made a little bit tougher with the injuries we do have.

“It gives us an opportunity to show what character the club’s made of.

“We’re working hard and we’ll keep working hard.”