North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston believes Brisbane are developing something special in their halves pairing of Ben Hunt and Josh Hoffman.

The Queensland and Australian star says while it's early days for the Broncos' pair, they've looked good so far in the 2014 NRL season.

"It's working well for them. Hunt really controls the game and Hoffy is more of a runner of the ball," Thurston said.

"They'll learn the more they play together. We need to limit their time and make sure we put a bit of pressure on both those boys."

The Cowboys will get an up close and personal look at the duo on Friday when they host the Broncos in a Queensland derby which neither side wants to lose ahead of the testing State of Origin period.

Sitting in 12th coming into the match, Thurston admits the next few weeks could prove crucial to the Cowboys' season with himself and other representative stars set to be unavailable once the Origin series gets under way.

"The next few weeks is massive for us," Thurston said.

"We're only two points out of the top eight. If we can string a couple of wins together before the Origin period, hopefully we can be up there or roundabouts."

Thurston admitted he was surprised by the shock axing of Ben Hannant amid rumours of a fallout between the forward and Broncos coach Anthony Griffin.

He's also not fully convinced Sam Thaiday's calf injury is enough to prevent him being a late inclusion in the Brisbane team.

"From all reports, he's not playing but there could be a sneaky suspicion there he could lace the boots on," Thurston said.

"I know he's up here."

The omission of Hannant and Thaiday's likely absence has forced Griffin to make several changes for the Broncos.

David Hala has taken Hannant's place on the bench while Martin Kennedy is fit to play despite rolling his ankle at training earlier this week.

Griffin says there's plenty of comparisons between how the two rivals' seasons have panned out so far.

"They are probably like us - there are a couple of games they should have won," he said.

"The last two games they have played have been their best two.

"They were terribly unlucky not to beat Manly and put away Parramatta which we were not able to do."