The North Queensland Cowboys will be boosted by the late addition of Jonathan Thurston into their lineup for their big local clash with the Titans at Skilled Stadium, Robina this weekend.
Still rated by many as the NRL’s best player, Thurston has recovered much quicker than expected from two shoulder reconstructions and will take the field for the Cowboys in a nice early season boost.
The North Queensland club have confirmed JT has been involved in contact training and they probably knew of his return some time in advance, but moved to keep it under wraps this week.
After the double bout of shoulder surgery, Thurston was expected to return to the NRL in about round 5 or round 6. His early return is a massive mental boost alone for the Cowboys as they try and get a solid start to the 2008 NRL Season.
Cowboys coach Graham Murray didn’t personally confirm JT would be added to the team but confirmed: “Jonathan has been back on the training paddock for over 7 days.
Murray also said “The doctors are confident too and gave him the all-clear.
“It’s been astoundeding what Johnathan has been able to do in just a week.”
Gold Coast boss John Cartwright — when told of the news — said his side would naturally run traffic at Thurston.
“His comeback with possibly add some spice to the match,” Cartwright said.
“We’d be silly not work him over. It’s been a rapid comeback from just one operation let alone two of them.”
“I don’t know how much tackling he would have done in preparation. But regardless, it still gives the Cowboys psychological boost.”
“After 2008, JT finished the year as the best Rugby League player in the world, even with Darren Lockyer back many believe Thurston is the new main main.”
It seems punters did know about JT being a possible early starter.
The TAB raked in a single bet of $54,000 on the Cowboys to take down the Titans at Skilled Park, Robina – a game where the new Stadium was thought to be enough to get the Titans home.
The Cowboys have now firmed from $2.20 into $2.05 for the Round 1, 2008 NRL game – but the Gold Coast stay at $1.75 favourites.
The Cowboys are on the 2nd tier betting to win the NRL 2008 premiership at $9, with the Sea Eagles and the Eels.Rumours started about Jonathan Thurston playing this weekend, when it came to light he had flights booked with the team to the Gold Coast.
Sportingbet Australia’s Bill Richmond also heard the Thurston returning early rumour.
“A little birdie told me Thurston might take the field, but I have no idea if this is founded at all – but the betting does point out that everyone now suddenly likes North Queensland,” Richmond said.