INJURY CLOUD: Johnathan Thurston (left), with his leg iced, watches from the bench during the clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs last weekend.
INJURY CLOUD: Johnathan Thurston (left), with his leg iced, watches from the bench during the clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs last weekend. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Green tight-lipped over Thurston injury

NORTH Queensland coach Paul Green has not ruled out a shock appearance by superstar Johnathan Thurston in Saturday night’s home NRL blockbuster against Melbourne.

While a hamstring injury does look certain to rob fans of seeing the game’s two best players, Thurston and Cameron Smith, Green delivered a few cryptic answers to media questions, which left the door slightly open to the Cowboys great playing.

First Green described Thurston’s hamstring injury as “inconclusive”.

Then when asked for a timeframe he told reporters “according to everyone else, it’s two weeks, so we’ll see how that goes”.

When asked point blank if Thurston was a chance of playing this weekend, Green didn’t rule him out.

“We’ll see how he goes. At this stage he’s got a few days’ rest, which was always planned because of his Origin commitments, so once he comes back from that we will monitor him and see how he feels,” he said.

Thurston, though, is unlikely to play against the Storm, with Green handing his No.7 jumper to experienced halves campaigner Ray Thompson as the only change to the 17-man team that, on the back of Thurston’s brilliant kicking game, took a physical Canterbury apart 36-0 last weekend.

While Thompson is a strong defender, he is no Thurston, and Melbourne, coming off a clinical 26-10 win over the Roosters, will feel a lot more confident marking him than the Queensland and Australian star.

Still, Storm coach Craig Bellamy and his senior Storm troopers Smith and Cooper Cronk have far too much experience and respect for last year’s premiers to be fooled into thinking North Queensland would be any easier to beat.

Bellamy would have picked up on how smoothly the Cowboys handled losing Thurston, a point not lost on Green, who has been working towards the point where there is not so much reliance on Thurston.

“We played without JT before and this is another opportunity for blokes like Ray (Thompson) and co,” Green said.

“I thought Michael Morgan was excellent after JT went off and we need him and others stepping up and taking some ownership of the team.

“We moved past that (being a one-man team), we proved that last year, and we’ve worked really hard in the last few years to get to a point where everyone in this team is contributing and everyone knows their role no matter whether it is JT or Matt Scott or anyone else.

“If they’re out of the team, the guy who takes their place, he knows he has a job to do.”

Green side while the Sharks were leading the competition and on a 15-game winning streak, he felt Melbourne was the “form team”.

“Melbourne is back to what they do best and we will have to play very well to compete with them,” he said.


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