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18 Mar 2018 13:09
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Thurston is NRL long shot: Cronulla coach

    Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan is not expecting North Queensland to risk Johnathan Thurston in their NRL clash in Sydney.

    - article from

    Will he or won't he?

    Speculation that Johnathan Thurston may make a shock NRL injury comeback against Cronulla ramped up again when the co-captain trained with North Queensland in Sydney on Wednesday.

    But Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan reckons the inspirational Queensland playmaker is a "long shot" and won't be risked by the Cowboys with State of Origin looming.

    Either way, Thurston's shoulder injury will receive a searching test on Thursday.

    Flanagan may not expect Thurston to play but he promised the three-time Golden Boot winner would receive plenty of "traffic" if he did.

    "I don't want to read too much into it," Flanagan said when told Thurston had trained with the Cowboys.

    "If he is any chance of playing Origin, I would be surprised if he does turn up.

    "And if he does turn up, we won't treat him any different. He can expect a bit of traffic."

    The Cowboys will make a final call on Thurston when they announce their 17 an hour before kickoff against the defending premiers.

    Thurston has not played for the Cowboys since round six due to a calf tear and then the shoulder injury suffered in Australia's trans-Tasman Test win barely a fortnight ago.

    Thurston's shoulder complaint was supposed to sideline him for six weeks.

    Flanagan assumed Thurston would be put in cotton wool by the Cowboys to ensure he is ready for Queensland's Origin campaign which starts on May 31.

    "It will be a long shot for him if the injury was diagnosed correctly. It has only been 10 days or so since he last played," he said.

    "(Cowboys coach) Paul Green is not going to turn him out if he is not 100 per cent fit.

    "But you never know with Johnathan. He is a tough bugger."

    North Queensland have won just 15 of 49 games without Thurston but have claimed two of their last three.

    Flanagan was confident the second placed Sharks could handle whatever was thrown at them by the Cowboys - with or without Thurston.

    The two teams have created a fiery rivalry after deciding each other's finals fate in three of the last four playoff campaigns.

    Cronulla have bragging rights after disposing of a fast finishing Cowboys 32-20 in last year's preliminary final.

    "There is a fair difference in the Cowboys (without Thurston) but we have played North Queensland a fair bit over a couple of years," Flanagan said.

    "We are pretty well prepared on the Cowboys.

    "And he has been around a long time so our players know what Johnathan Thurston is about."

    North Queensland will again look to last round hero, five-eighth Michael Morgan, to inspire if Thurston fails to play after sparking their 30-14 win over Canterbury - only the sixth-placed Cowboys' second win in five games.


    * Cronulla have won 12 of 17 home matches against North Queensland

    * Cronulla have won just one of four home games this year

    * Cronulla are conceding the most penalties (8.1 per game), making the most errors (13.1pg) and the worst completion rate (70 per cent).


    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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