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North Queensland Cowboys players.

Thurston on his return

North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green is happy to have plenty to work on ahead of his side's testimonial match against the Melbourne Storm in Brisbane on Friday night.

For much of their 30-16 loss to the Wests Tigers in Cairns, the basics were lacking for the 2017 Telstra Premiership grand finalists, especially in the ball handling and discipline departments.

"It was a little bit scrappy, just some of the fundamentals we didn't do particularly well tonight, but it's the first game of the year so you're going to get a bit of that," Green said.

"I think it was a good learning curve for some of our younger guys about what level you need to be at to play against NRL players, so that's a positive to take out of it."

Green fielded a young side in the second half, with Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston rested.

The experience gained will only add to the Cowboys' already-formidable depth, as more players understand what it takes to make it at NRL level.

"That's part of that learning curve, I expected them to … find themselves under pressure at times, and part of that is learning to dig yourself out of that and I thought they did that well tonight," Green said.

North Queensland Cowboys players.
North Queensland Cowboys players. ©Dave Acree/NRL Photos

One positive Green can take from the night is that both Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott came through injury free.

Thurston showed he had lost none of his competitiveness in the six months he's been off the field following shoulder surgery, although the playmaker admits he has lost some of his confidence.

"It took me 25 minutes to get a bit of confidence, but it was just nice to get back out there alongside the boys," Thurston said.

"There's a lot to work on, on both sides of the ball, so we've got a few days to rip in with the boys for a couple of weeks' time." 

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