Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston.

The sentiment surrounding Sunday's match in Cairns will be put aside until Johnathan Thurston says he's "old and fat" as the Cowboys halfback prepares to face Greg Inglis for the last time.

One of Thurston's closes mates on and off the field and the man who iced many of Thurston's try assists at state and international level, Inglis will lead the in-form Rabbitohs out against the struggling North Queensland side in what should be a mismatch at Barlow Park.

"A lot of my best memories on the footy field have been with GI outside me in the Maroons and Kangaroos jersey," Thurston said.

"When I retire and become old and fat I'll be able to look back on those memories and hopefully have a beer or two with him.

"I hadn't actually thought about that [being their last encounter] … I'm a bit sad now," he added, giving his trademark laugh.

"GI is a good mate of mine and he's playing some really good football too so it's a big job for our right edge."

Despite the disparity on the table, Thurston expects the contest to be as tight as the last time the sides met, with the Cowboys going down by a point after the Rabbitohs were awarded a penalty after the siren.

"It does [give us confidence]. It's another game that got away from us, we were close but close isn't a win so hopefully we can right our wrongs this weekend and get the two points and get a bit of confidence out of it," Thurston said. 

"They're playing some really good football, their halves are kicking well, they're running the ball, the Burgess boys are laying a fair platform for their halves so we're going to have our work cut out for us but that's what we want, we want to be challenged."

Thurston still holds out hope of an unbeaten nine-game finish to the season to somehow sneak into the finals despite being written off by virtually all Telstra Premiership pundits.

"We've got a team here that works hard and they're right in the trenches at the moment and they'll continue to work hard and continue to get the best out of each other."