Help is on its way for North Queensland ahead of the State of Origin period with Ray Thompson set to mark his long awaited return from injury.
Cowboys coach Paul Green confirmed the utility would be given a run in the second tier Queensland Cup this weekend before being considered for NRL action.
Thompson’s comeback from February ankle surgery could not be better timed for North Queensland.
The ladder leaders are expected to lose a number of stars including their halves Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan to Origin duty in a potential blow to their NRL title defence.
They will play two away games during the Origin period – against the Dragons in Wollongong in round 12 and in Canberra six weeks later.
But PNG international Thompson’s return adds much needed halves depth.
“It’s good timing for us,” Green said of Thompson who broke down at Indigenous All Stars training in February.
“He will play a key role during that Origin period.
“He’s been out for a while. He will be looking at getting match time and confidence back.”
Green said it was important North Queensland built momentum before losing players for the June 1 Origin series opener in Sydney.
“It’s an important period leading into that (series opener),” Green said.
“It’s making sure we play well and have that confidence and knowing whoever comes into that next phase of the season during Origin that the team can carry that on.”
Meanwhile, Green named an unchanged side to take on Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.