Titans brace for resurgent Thurston
For five years Neil Henry saw firsthand the change that would come over Johnathan Thurston after a loss which is why he has his Gold Coast Titans on high alert ahead of their clash with the Cowboys at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
Considered one of the game's greatest competitors, Thurston has only been a part of a Cowboys team beaten by more than 20 points at home once since Round 3, 2013 and Henry knows there will be a bounce back after last week's 30-8 loss to Manly.
Two golden point games to start the season may have taken its toll physically on Thurston and the rest of the Cowboys in the oppressive conditions in Townsville last weekend but Henry knows all too well what a spurned Thurston looks like a week after a loss.
"There is normally a bit of resilience and determination to get back in the winning circle. That's with any team but more so with Johnathan," Henry said prior to the Titans' captain's run on Friday.
"He'll come down here looking to put in a big performance.
"He's been very consistent this year and it was a little bit out of character their performance.
"They'll try and bounce back. He's very much a competitor, we all know that, and a very dangerous team with him and [Michael] Morgan.
"They've had a few changes in their side so they've been tested with the loss of [Jason] Taumalolo and Matt Scott up front so it's up to Scott Bolton and [Patrick] Kaufusi to step up."
Playing on the right edge again this weekend Titans co-captain Kevin Proctor can expect to see plenty of Thurston's probing on Saturday night.
His defensive combination with Ash Taylor, Konrad Hurrell and Tyronne Roberts-Davis is still very much in its infancy and Proctor knows that the key to keeping the Cowboys contained is to ensure Thurston is kept as quiet as possible.
"They're a quality side and any side with 'JT' in it is going to be dangerous," Proctor said.
"Just try not to give him so much time with the ball. He's always got plenty of time with the ball and if we can limit that then it might give our edges a chance.
"He's always got a lot of time and he's just a freak with the ball and without it I guess.
"He's a courageous little fella and I'll be looking to shut him down this week and if we shut him down we'll be a good chance of getting the win."
Compared to the chaos of the first three weeks the Titans have enjoyed a relatively uninterrupted week on the training paddock as they look to back up last week's 26-14 win over the Eels with their second victory of the year.
Centre Dale Copley and winger Daniel Vidot will make their club debuts on the left while Konrad Hurrell and Ryan Simpkins have been given the all clear of copping head knocks against Parramatta.
The Cowboys have won four of the past five clashes between the two teams but have not enjoyed a win at Cbus Super Stadium since way back in 2011.
Saturday night is the 18th meeting of the Queensland cousins and although the Broncos-Cowboys rivalry captures all the headlines, Proctor can feel something similar building between the Titans and Cowboys.
"I think there's a little bit of a rivalry there already, just with the Queensland clash," said Proctor.
"The three Queensland sides always want to try and top each other and we're hoping we're there at the end of the year.
"We've got a few more options this week. Dale Copley is in and Chris [Grevsmuhl] has just come up from Sydney too. We've got a little bit more options in our outside backs with Vidot coming back as well.
"Everyone has been back at full training and the 17 have been going really good together and we're looking forward to watching them play this weekend."