Johnathan Thurston tipped Cowboys recruit Ben Barba to bring the Matty Bowen magic back to the club while speaking at the launch of his autobiography in Brisbane on Tuesday.
Thurston - who also outlined why the Kangaroos lost the Test to the Kiwis in Auckland on Saturday and why Greg Inglis can make a comeback to the Australian captaincy - insisted the Cowboys would have a vastly improved year with the arrival of Barba and the return of Michael Morgan from injury.
Bowen was the master of changing a game with off-the-cuff brilliance during his stellar career and Thurston said Barba was cut from the same cloth.
"Benny Barba, we all know what we had can do on the football field. We've seen that [Bowen-like spark] throughout his career and certainly having him at fullback he has got a lot of speed and can change the game in the blink of an eye," Thurston said.
"That is what we have probably lacked throughout the year so hopefully he can score a few tries for us.
"I think he will fit into our structures really well and I don’t think the boys will be having a year like they did last season. I think the club is in really good shape for next year, obviously getting Morgo' [Micheal Morgan] back."
Thurston, who is set to embark on a lengthy speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand to promote his autobiography, is also expected to have a mentoring role at the Cowboys.
"I haven't spoken to the club about what my role will be yet," he said.
"Obviously I am very busy at the moment with the speaking tour and the book launch, which I am very excited about, and once that all settles down I will be having conversations with the club about what role they see me playing."
After losing 26-24 to New Zealand, Thurston said the Kangaroos must improve to beat Tonga in Auckland on Saturday.
"I thought they were good in patches but I just think they lacked a bit of composure at times. I felt like they were trying to win the game every time they made a line break, pushing the pass and things like that, so I think with a bit more composure from the boys they will get the result," he said.
"[Tonga] have really brought the international game to light and for them to have a game against the Kangaroos they will be jumping out of their skin and will be fired up for it.
"No doubt our boys will need to be a lot better than what they were the other night but they have got a great coach [Mal Meninga] and in Boyd Cordner, a great captain, so I think they will get the job done."
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Thurston said he believed Inglis could get the Test captaincy back next year after serving his two-Test suspension over a drink-driving charge, while adding it was ultimately a decision for the Kangaroos hierarchy.
"I think he is the man for the job. We have seen what he did with the Maroons and in some of those [Origin] games I thought he was probably the best on the paddock," Thurston said.
"He leads by example and that is a conversation for him, Boyd and Mal to have.
"We’ve all made mistakes. He’s made one and owned up to it. No doubt he will want to put it behind him and be better for it and no doubt he will be."