Thurston set to play 300th
Johnathan Thurston is set to play his 300th NRL match after being named in the North Queensland Cowboys team to take on the Penrith Panthers on Saturday afternoon, just three days after State of Origin II.
It will take an injury to prevent Thurston from simultaneously entering the exclusive 300 club, as well as becoming the most capped Cowboys with 271 games for North Queensland, overtaking Matthew Bowen.
The only change to the side that defeated the Parramatta Eels in Round 14 is the inclusion of Corey Jensen on the bench, taking over from Ben Spina, who injured his biceps against the Melbourne Strom in Round 15.
Thurston won't have too much time to think about his milestone, or celebrate it with his teammates, given he won't train with them until Friday, but coach Paul Green is confident Thurston's professionalism will shine through.
"At the end of the day it's about doing your job and putting the team first and he's the guy that epitomises that… all being well he'll be there Saturday," Green said.
"He won't have been with us, he'll train on our last training session… But you don't really have to make a big deal of it… I think his teammates will want to make sure it's a memorable night for him."
The Cowboys will miss the consistency that Spina has brought off the bench since the Cowboys' return to form over a month ago, but Green is confident Jensen will get the job done and is happy with how his side has been performing.
"We're being tested at the moment, I've said earlier in the year, we were well below the average for a couple of seasons so eventually you're going to head back towards the average," he said.
"Whether it's luck or it's just our turn you get presented with different challenges and that's ours at the moment. I think all in all we're coping really well the team is doing well despite the injury toll and… particularly in the last month I don't think our performances have been too far off the mark."