Thurston hype won’t be a distraction: Green
COWBOYS coach Paul Green is confident his team won't let the hype surrounding Johnathan Thurston's home farewell distract them before Friday's wooden spoon stoush with Parramatta.
The spotlight on the retiring champion will intensity this week when he runs onto 1300SMILES Stadium for the last time, but helping the club avoid coming last for the first time since 2000 is firmly on his mind.
The Eels and Cowboys are equal last on the ladder after their losses to Melbourne and Cronulla respectively this week. Parramatta (-104) has a slightly superior points difference to North Queensland (-114).
The Cowboys are attempting to avoid becoming the first team since the grand final era began in 1954 to get the spoon the year after playing in the decider.
"It's extremely important. We certainly got one fight on our hands," Thurston said after Saturday's 28-16 road loss to the Sharks.
"The boys have to make sure we turn up with the right intent during the week and give us the best preparation we can heading into Friday night.
"It's a short preparation but hopefully we get a couple of troops back next week."
Green said the spotlight on Thurston this week is unavoidable, but has urged his team to ensure Thurston says goodbye to the Townsville fans in style.
"I said after the (Cronulla) game it's hard to ignore," Green said.
"But if we go forward a week, put ourselves in the sheds after the game and we've come off with a loss, no matter what happens during the week that will be a pretty ordinary way to finish.
"We have to make sure we get the result. While there will be plenty of stuff going on, we need to make sure we prepare well because Parra won't be an easy game.
"It's important we give JT what he deserves, given what he's done in the game."
A victory should all but ensure the Cowboys avoid the spoon. North Queensland finishes its season on the Gold Coast next Saturday, while the Eels will start huge outsiders against premiership heavyweights the Roosters.
Thurston arrived back in Townsville yesterday with his right elbow strapped, but Green said it's of no major concern.
The Cowboys battled hard against the Sharks and levelled scores when Gavin Cooper scored for the seventh straight game with eight minutes left.
But Cronulla took advantage when Cowboys forward John Asiata was sin-binned by scoring two late tries.
"We certainly had our chances to win the game. The effort was there and we've seen before where teams have clocked off, and I'm proud we haven't done that yet," Green said.
"They (Parramatta) been playing all right, they've certainly improved the last few weeks.
"They've got a physical forward pack, (Mitchell) Moses and (Corey) Norman are getting a combination going and (Jarryd) Hayne is playing well."