The problem with the Cowboys isn't that Johnathan Thurston has played a year too long, it's that he's not getting enough help from his teammates, according to Michael Ennis.
Writing for Big League, Ennis defended comments from fellow Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander, who questioned whether Thurston may have played a year too long – but added the future Immortal needed more from his forwards and fellow playmaker Michael Morgan.
"Thurston hasn't been able to leave his mark on each game like we know he is able to do, but in saying that, it's only been five weeks of football and North Queensland have played some good sides," Ennis said.
"We've seen sides in the opening five weeks target the Cowboys' middle and through that they've been about to target Thurston. There were a number of times last weekend that some of the big outside backs of the Warriors got a free shot on him."
Thurston's fellow playmakers are also currently below their best, Ennis added.
"There seems to be a lack of cohesion between the Cowboys' spine. Jake Granville looks a bit out of touch, and while Ben Hampton has been good, he doesn't have the ball-playing talent and creativity like Lachlan Coote does," he said.
"For [Morgan] to take a back seat with Thurston returning would be hard. It looks like there's some real frustration building because neither of them have found their rhythm in terms of their combination together and how it's going to work."
Thurston is just as capable as bouncing out of his current slump as cricketing legends Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting did in the twilights of their respective careers, according to Ennis.
"I think Thurston will bounce back just like those before him. If this is his last season, it would be really sad if we didn't get to see the champion go out the way he deserves, but in saying this, the competition is absolutely ruthless," he added.