Johnathan Thurston's shoulder was put to the test by some tough Parramatta Eels tackling.
Johnathan Thurston's shoulder was put to the test by some tough Parramatta Eels tackling. Cameron Spencer

JT bracing for barrage from the Blues

COWBOYS champion Johnathan Thurston admits he has a "target on my head" and is bracing for a Blues barrage in his return to the Queensland side for Origin II.

The Maroons team for Origin II is named Monday and Thurston will be recalled for his 37th game for the Maroons after his shoulder survived a torrid examination against Parramatta on Saturday night.

Eels defenders targeted Thurston from the outset at Darwin's TIO Stadium, with former NSW Origin adversary Beau Scott attempting to unsettle the Maroons ace in the Cowboys' 32-6 victory.

Thurston was repeatedly whacked attacking the line or as he passed the ball - prompting the referees to caution Eels skipper Scott in the 29th minute about their heavy treatment of the Cowboys schemer.

Thurston overcame the defensive onslaught, scoring a second-half try and setting up three others to erase any doubt over his fitness for Origin II at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday week.

The Maroons need Thurston at his mercurial best to save the Origin series and the four-time Dally M Medallist is ready for whatever the Blues throw at him in the return bout. 

"I've always got a target on my head. That's not going to change," Thurston said after Eels trio Scott, Daniel Alvaro and Kenny Edwards peppered him with a series of defensive shots.

"It's going to be expected throughout the year.

"I copped a few late hits early on which tested it (his shoulder) out ... but it's pulled up fine."

Cowboys coach Paul Green lauded Thurston's toughness in his first game for the club in 63 days, saying the Parramatta onslaught has only galvanised his self-belief for Origin II.

"That was a good game for Johnno, it will give him some confidence for Origin II," he said.

"We all know his ability so the way he played didn't surprise me. But it will get rid of any doubts he may have had (about his shoulder)."

Cowboys and Maroons teammate Justin O'Neill said Thurston was eager to dismantle the Blues after having his record 36-game Origin streak broken in Game One.

"JT is such a competitor," he said.

"He has been itching to come back since he has been out. The only thing that has held him back is that shoulder injury and as soon as he got it right, he was good enough to play."

Meanwhile, Cowboys scrumbase partner Michael Morgan is hopeful of retaining his Queensland utility spot for Origin II.

"I never see myself as a certain starter or anything like that, so I never take my Queensland jumper for granted," he said. 

"I will wait and see when the team is named and fingers crossed I will be there."

News Corp Australia

Gracemere beats Frenchville in cricket starter

premium_icon Gracemere beats Frenchville in cricket starter

GRACEMERE captain discusses season opener victory

The unsung heroes of PBR rodeos

premium_icon The unsung heroes of PBR rodeos

GRACEMERE Bullzye Protection Athlete discusses the tough sport

NITELIFE GALLERY: Fun times at Rockhampton clubs

NITELIFE GALLERY: Fun times at Rockhampton clubs

Check out this week's Nitelife gallery here

Local Partners