Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough.

Andrew McCullough has declared he is ready to play 80 minutes if required at hooker as the Brisbane Broncos number nine prepares to be rushed back into the starting lineup for the home clash with the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night.

McCullough, returning from an ACL injury, came off the bench with Sam Thaiday starting at rake in the disappointing 34-12 loss to St George Illawarra to kick off the Telstra Premiership season.

McCullough said his knee was fine and was confident his fitness would hold up for 80 minutes if required against the Cowboys.

"I'd like to think so," he told NRL.com

"I've been playing long enough to know what to expect from these big games. I know in a game where I can manage to have a bit of a spell when I can and get my breath.

"I also know how quick the first 20 or 30 minutes is going to be."

Sitting on the sidelines is not McCullough's cup of tea but after training on Monday, he told reporters he was just happy to be back.

"It's been a long seven months and I am grateful to be back playing football and to get that first hit-out [against the Dragons] out of the way," he said.

"It is a bit tough from the bench watching and thinking about it a bit more than I should, but once I got in there and had a tackle and a run, I was alright.

"Once I got into the game… and got going I was alright, so I've put my hand up and want to start.

Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough.
Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough. ©Shane Myers / NRL Photos

McCullough, who admitted whether he played 80 minutes against the Cowboys would be up to Wayne Bennett, said the prospect of starting against the Cowboys was "exciting".

"When you get injured you realise this is what you miss, the big games…and this is certainly one of them," he said.

"I'm not worried about my fitness or my knee."

 NRL.com drove past Broncos headquarters on Saturday morning and McCullough could be seen on his own running up and down the training field.

When asked about that, the Brisbane hooker said doing extras was something he liked to do but pointed to a conversation he had with his wife to explain his mindset of leaving no stone unturned to get back for round one.

"I told my partner that the day after my surgery, that I had to get back for round one," he told NRL.com.

"I had a bit of a goal in my head. It was a bit iffy there at times, but she was great for me to balance things away from football. I got married [in the off-season] and I reckon putting energy into something else helped me.

"Once I got married, I put all my energy into getting ready for round one."

Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough.
Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough. ©Scott Davis / NRL Photos/Scott Davis / NRL Photos

McCullough will showcase a different style to that of his former understudy at Brisbane and opposing hooker Jake Granville on Friday night but said he would not be underestimating the Cowboys rake.

"He is a quality hooker," McCullough said.

"Obviously, he is a different style to me but that is what makes his team so good.

"He gets out of dummy half well and brings those big boys onto it and feeds off Jordan [McLean] and Matty Scott up the middle, and knows when to give the ball to Johnno [Johnathan Thurston].

"When he runs, he runs well and has been doing that for many years.

"When he was here [at the Broncos], you knew he was going to be a quality hooker but he just needed the opportunity.

"He took the plunge and he is pretty settled up there. He is making a great career out of it."

McCullough said the team performance against the Dragons was disappointing with Monday's training session a long one as the Broncos worked hard on the fundamentals.

"[Wayne Bennett] was a bit disappointed because he knows what we can produce and when we don’t do that and play stupid football it doesn't make for an easy Monday," he said.