In past years, people have called the Cowboys a one-man team, that rely on Thurston to do everything for them, and that they cannot win games without him.
In 2012 however, the Cowboys are keen to prove that this is not the case, and for coach Neil Henry, he says that the club does not rely on Thurston as much now, as they used to in the past.
Look, he is a quality player who is always going to be missed when he is out,” Henry said.
“But yeah, I think we are slowly starting to get the confidence to say that if JT is not there, there are others who will put their hand up and do the job.
“I think last season, we took a couple of steps along that line to say we can cope without him when he is not there.”
With the arrival of Tigers half Robert Lui, and the emergence of young forwards in Ray Thompson and Michael Morgan, Henry is also confident that the young halves can help relieve some pressure off of Thurston.
“If Rob’s playing first grade, he’s used to playing that role at the Tigers and has a good kicking game as well,”Henry said.
“We’ve also got Ray Thompson whose been very good in the trials and young Michael Moran. There is some good depth there. It will certainly take some of that defensive focus off JT. That can only be a good thing for us.”
The Cowboys recruitment drive was not as extensive as it was in the 2011 season, but with the additions of both Robert Lui and Kane Linnett, Henry sees no problem with that.
“We had 14 new players come to the club at the start of last season who have been here more than 12 months now,”he said.
“They are much more comfortable with what’s going on and I just think the stability in the roster will be an asset for us.
“We were in the top four for 16 or 17 rounds last season before we fell away a bit at the end there. We still made the play-offs and although I think defensively, we weren’t really consistent enough to have a good crack at it, it’s given us something to really work on.
“Defence has been a real focus and there were some good signs there in the trial against the Dragons. We are in pretty good shape.”