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Here's what Toyota Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston has had to say this week ahead of the elimination final against Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

On winning a third RLPA Players’ Player Award

“I was a little bit surprised. In my eyes it’s probably the highest honour you can get in the game. To be voted by your peers as one of the best in the game is truly humbling and obviously I’ve got my teammates to thank for helping me get that. The football they’ve been playing throughout the year has been outstanding. That’s helped my game out a lot.”

On training at 1300SMILES training this week

“It was very warm on Wednesday so hopefully it’s not that hot down there in Sydney. We got through quite a bit of work which we needed to in such a short turnaround.”

On the Cowboys’ mood after beating the Broncos

“We’re very excited to be playing again this week. We know a couple of times in the last few years we haven’t got past the first week of the finals. There’s a lot of clubs that would wish to be in this position. We’ve watched the video of the Broncos game and know what we need to work on coming up against a very formidable Roosters side. They’re the reigning premiers and minor premiers and have strikepower all over the park. Where they win games is through that middle third.”

On the feeling in the squad during this year’s finals

“Everyone’s a lot clearer on their role and knowing their role in the team. I think we’re better placed this time than the last two times we’ve come into the finals. The boys are a little more experienced now, a little bit older. They know what it takes to win finals games. Greeny’s been great for us and he’s got us playing some good footy.”

On what it’s been like to not get too far in the finals in the previous three attempts

“It’s been disappointing when you don’t make it further. Destiny is in our own hands and we need to be better in a few areas. We need to be strong defensively on Friday night because the Roosters fire all over the park. They probably have one of the best forward packs in the competition and they’ve proven that over the last couple of years. The fans should get their money’s worth with the battle in the middle third.”

On the advice he can pass on to the younger members of the squad

“We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience. Those boys know what it takes to win games. You just need to simplify things, know your role and make sure you’re doing it to the best of your ability.”

On the loss of Tariq Sims to a five-game suspension

“He’s a massive loss. He’s been a big part of our team this year. It’s going to be tough for us but we trained well today and we’re moving on from that.”

On the damage that’s being created by the Cowboys’ left-side attack

“I don’t think we target going there or anything like that. It just sort of opens up a bit for us there.”

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.