North Queensland Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston at training.

Thurston ready to make his return to the NRL arena

He is in his last year in the NRL and returning from a season-ending shoulder injury, but extreme conditions in North Queensland are having no impact on North Queensland Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston as he prepares to make his return in Saturday's trial match against the Wests Tigers.

The veteran playmaker has been described as a "ball of energy" by back-rower Ethan Lowe and it seems his enthusiasm is infectious.

According to assistant coach Todd Payten, the 34-year-old halfback is one of several Cowboys desperate to play after a long, hot pre-season.

"I think the boys are really itching to get out and play some footy; this pre-season is probably a couple weeks longer than the last couple having no Nines and no early-season matches," he said.

"[Thurston] is really excited and if you know Johnno, he's pretty infectious with his enthusiasm, he's been bouncing off the walls for a couple of weeks and he's got the players up.

"It's good to see him like that as he's really excited and he'll probably only push out 40 minutes in preparation for next week and the season's opener so we'll see how he goes and I'm sure it will be fine."

Lowe is naturally excited to see Thurston back on the field and said the consensus on the playmaker is that half a game will whet his appetite for more minutes next Friday in his testimonial game against the Melbourne Storm in Brisbane.

Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston.
Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston. ©Scott Davis / NRL Photos/Scott Davis/ NRL Photos

Even with that time, Lowe will be hopeful of putting points on the board if he gets an opportunity to run off Thurston. 

"I don't think he'll want to come off at all. He's been itching to get out there so I think he's very keen for the weekend," Lowe said.

"It makes my job pretty easy as he's the best in the world at what he does, so it makes my job pretty easy running lines off him."