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Targeted Johnathan Thurston wary of future

COWBOYS superstar Johnathan Thurston has warned it is "open slather" on playmakers after the NRL approved the roughhouse treatment he copped from Newcastle last weekend.

The targeting of Thurston sparked an outcry from some of the game's toughest players, led by Trevor "The Axe" Gillmeister.

On the eve of the club's crucial Queensland derby clash against Brisbane tomorrow night, the halfback declared clubs would now go after him and other playmakers given the NRL's match review committee decided the tactics used by Newcastle's forwards, in particular Beau Scott, were within the rules of the game.

"I guess everyone saw the blueprint on how to beat us last weekend, and no doubt they (Broncos) will send a lot of traffic my way and that will keep happening," said Thurston who became a second-time father during the week with the birth of daughter Charlie Grace.

"It's game on now.

"You can do that and get away with it.

"I think a lot of teams will bring that (tactic) into their game plans. I think it's open slather."

James Tamou admitted he and his fellow Cowboys forwards felt bad about not protecting Thursday from being battered by questionable tactics, which included a late tackle from Scott in the first half and an ugly tackle by the same player in the second half that saw Thurston's head flung into the ground.

"We can't let what happened last weekend happen again, he's our guy," said the NSW and Australian prop who had neck surgery in the off-season, an injury he said severely restricted his impact last season.

"It's our job as the big men to protect him more."

Thurston said he knew his forwards would look after him.

But added he also needed to get smarter in where he positioned himself at key moments.

"They're a little bit disappointed about what happened but I know they've got my back," he said.

Thurston said the return of Lachlan Coote (knee) at fullback forcing Michael Morgan into the halves, would help the Cowboys' kicking game.

Coote hasn't played NRL since 2013 after rupturing his ACL in the 2014 Auckland Nines and missing the entire season.

"He's got a good left foot kick, silky skills, good hands and vision and he's pretty quick as well," Thurston said.

Coote, who has played three trials and a Queensland Cup game, said he expected his lungs would be "burning and busting".

"It will be nerve-racking playing in front of a packed house, but just bring it," he said.

"Morgo (Michael Morgan) has done a great job of keeping my jumper warm for me but I am ready to go and very excited about playing again."

Topics:  johnathan thurston north queensland cowboys nrl2015