Twelve months after Beau Scott earned North Queensland’s ire, the Cowboys admit they are bracing for a repeat of the backrower’s roughhouse tactics on Johnathan Thurston on Saturday night.
But Cowboys coach Paul Green has all but dared Scott to target his co-captain, saying Thurston is primed to make him pay for his aggression.
A livid Green called on the NRL to offer more protection for playmakers after Scott manhandled Thurston in Newcastle’s round two win over North Queensland last year.
Thurston was left with a black eye after Scott hit him without the ball before tipping the star half on his head in a tackle.
Fast forward a year and Eels signing Scott again has Thurston in his sights ahead of Saturday night’s Parramatta showdown – and don’t North Queensland know it.
Asked if he expected more of the same from Scott, Green said curtly: “Yep”.
However, Green hinted that Thurston was ready to have the last laugh over the new Eels enforcer.
“The backrower’s job is to pressure ball players,” Green said.
“But if he wants to put himself out of the defensive line Johnno is good at making good decisions on who to pass to – we will see what happens.”
Asked if he wanted referees to protect Thurston, Green said: “Same as every other week.”
Green is already cranky after complaining about Cronulla’s controversial tactics in last weekend’s NRL season-opening win over the Sharks.
Several players including co-captain Matt Scott had to miss training sessions during the week ahead of the Eels clash due to injuries sustained by Cronulla’s dubious tactics.
Only Cronulla playmaker James Maloney received a warning from the NRL over a “cannonball” tackle on North Queensland’s James Tamou.
All players were cleared to play the Eels with Matthew Wright called in as 18th man as a precaution.
Cowboys pivot Michael Morgan admitted the forwards were out to offer more protection to Thurston against Scott this weekend.
“Hopefully, but I will leave that for the big boys,” Morgan said.
“He (Scott) is an aggressive player and likes to put a lot of pressure on the halves.
“He goes out of his way to do that for his team.
“But Johnno is used to it though.
“Teams target him each week and he seems to have been able to handle it this long.”