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Jake Granville

Milestone man Johnathan Thurston and North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green said the resilience shown by the side in their 20-14 win over the Cronulla Sharks provided cause for optimism.

Thurston's 300th NRL match ended in triumph - but his own performance wasn't one he will be storing in the memory bank. The fact it was his first match back following shoulder surgery explained some of the rust.

Now that it's said and done and his side has the two points, Thurston's keen to move onto the rest of the Telstra Premiership season.

''The shoulder feels really good, it's pulled up extremely well, obviously there was a fair bit of traffic my way,'' Thurston said.

"[It felt] pretty fast, obviously a fair bit of rust out there too but I'm kind of glad that the week's over now and I can just move on with the season. 

''We made it very hard for ourselves in that second half, a few errors put us under the pump, we've got to learn from it but it's nice to kick the season off with a win.''

Cowboys back-rower Coen Hess.
Cowboys back-rower Coen Hess. ©NRL Photos

The resilience the Cowboys developed in 2017 is clearly alive and well, and it showed, with the players never hanging their heads, even when errors and fatigue crept into their game.

Thurston was proud of his team for never fading out mentally, even when the Sharks came within two points of them in the second half.

''We have a lot to work on, but it was good to see some mental toughness from the team to stay in there and defend on the back of our errors pretty well, but still a lot to work on,'' Thurston said. 

Coach Paul Green shared Thurston's sentiment and was pleased with his team despite the scrappy nature of the performance.

Cowboys back-rower Jason Taumalolo.
Cowboys back-rower Jason Taumalolo. ©NRL Photos

''There was a lot to like about our performance … the things we didn't get right are not too difficult to fix up, it's probably a little bit of game awareness there,'' Green said.

''The hard part was we were creating some opportunities and we were just probably getting a little too excited at the chances we were seeing and turning the footy over.''

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.