The Cowboys were committed in defence but a woeful completion rate cruelled any chance of victory against the Titans. Copyright: Col Whelan/NRL Photos

Thurston searches for response

The exact nature of the content will remain restricted to those 13 Cowboys players left on the field at the end of Monday night's loss to the Titans but their response to Johnathan Thurston's spray after full-time will be evident when North Queensland host the Knights next week.

Thurston was extremely animated after calling his side into a circle following their one-point loss to the Titans but refused to divulge exactly which letters of the law he was laying down.

"That's just for us boys to know," Thurston said when asked what he had told them.

Pressed on whether he thought the dressing-down would have an effect, Thurston's response was simply: "We'll find out during the week."

Both Thurston and Cowboys coach Paul Green conceded that the side's preparation had been poor with a lack of urgency during training sessions a major area of concern.

Having led 6-0 at the break, North Queensland's chances were cruelled in the second stanza by a horror completion rate with Thurston, James Tamou and Kyle Feldt coming up with errors that handed the Titans possession in good attacking territory.

But despite such poor execution, Green saw enough in the effort of his players to make him believe that with a shot of confidence in attack they remain one of the toughest teams in the competition.

"We're not far away at all. We can certainly turn it around, there's no doubt about that," Green said.

"The thing is that the effort's there and while you've got that sort of effort, and that's across the board... Everyone's hurting when we lose like we did tonight and while blokes are giving that 100 per cent effort you're going to be in every game.

"What we need to fix up is not hard to fix up, whilst you've got that ethic and everyone cares about what we're doing.

"You don't know what the magical ingredient is when a team clicks, we haven't quite clicked yet in attack. While the effort's there – I can't fault the boys' effort – while that sort of effort is going in each week we'll never be too far away from any game and when we do get it right in attack we'll take some beating."

As for Thurston, he will start his search for answers on the training park when the side returns to Townsville on Tuesday.

"When you're tossing up the numbers that we're tossing up it makes it very hard for ourselves and we're the only people that can get us out of this," he said. "Training-wise we need to be better, preparation-wise we need to be better and when you're tossing up what we tossed up, it makes it very hard, and we still only lose by a point."