Johnathan Thurston.
Johnathan Thurston.

Cowboy Thurston?s next hill to climb

NEWLY appointed North Queensland Cowboys vice-captain Johnathan Thurston says it's going to be hard to top his groundbreaking feats of 2005, but will give it a shot this season.

Thurston, 22, arrived in Rockhampton yesterday for the Cowboys NRL pre-season trial clash against the Brisbane Broncos at Browne Park tonight.

Thurston, who has been appointed deputy to Travis Norton, is coming off a stellar season.

The former Bulldog arrived at the Cowboys last season with a premiership under his belt, went on to make his State of Origin debut for Queensland, guided the Cowboys to their first grand final and ended the season as the Dally M player of the year.

"It's going to be pretty hard to top ? it was a big year for me last year ? but that's the plan,'' said Thurston, who proved a hit at a coaching clinic in Gladstone yesterday, along with Cowboys teammate and St Brendan's College product Paul Bowman.

Thurston, last year's Queensland No.7, was this week named in a preliminary 26-man Maroons squad and has welcomed the extra competition for spots, especially from boom Bronco Karmichael Hunt.

Hunt will make his halfback debut for the Broncos tonight. "He's naturally talented and it's a good thing for Queensland to have a bit of depth in the halves,'' Thurston said.

While Thurston will make his return in Cairns next weekend against the New Zealand Warriors, one player keen to impress tonight is last year's Central Comets captain Mark Henry.

Henry will partner Cowboys grand final player "Rocket'' Rod Jensen in the centres tonight.

And by the look of the 24-yearold yesterday, he has been training the house down.

"The training has been a lot more intense but it's been a good experience for me,'' Henry said.

Cowboys and new Queensland assistant coach Neil Henry said Henry was just one player vying for a NRL start before the Queensland rivals meet in the season opener on March 12.

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