Amid all the praise coming the way of North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston ahead of his 250th NRL appearance, a different milestone looms for Ben Hannant.
The Cowboys prop will play his 200th NRL game against the Warriors on Saturday, an achievement that has been largely overlooked in the build-up given Thurston’s own event in the same match.
Hannant says, if anything, sharing the moment with his former Queensland and Australia teammate only enhances the feeling of achievement.
“It makes even more special for me,” the former Sydney Roosters, Brisbane and Canterbury forward said.
“I rate JT as one of the best players to ever lace a boot. To have a milestone on the same day makes me want to do my part even more.
“Make sure I have the best game I possibly can, not just for me and the team, but make sure his milestone is memorable for him.”
Milestones aside the Cowboys head into Saturday’s clash on the verge of the top eight after three straight Monday night victories, including an away win against South Sydney last time out.
Coach Paul Green has stuck with a winning formula by naming the same team which beat the premiers, with Hannant an impressive performer off the bench.
The 30-year-old played just 29 minutes against the Rabbitohs but clocked up an impressive 102 metres and laid 23 tackles.
The Warriors have also stuck with the same team which beat Wests Tigers in Auckland and Hannant says they’ll be a dangerous opponent despite a shocking record in Townsville.
The Cowboys won eight straight clashes with the Warriors at their home ground between 2003 and 2012 but it was the visitors who took the points on their last trip with a 20-16 win last year.
“The main thing you’ve got to prepare for is the physical battle,” Hannant said.
“Making sure that your contact’s very good and you’ve got an aggressive style of running.
“Against a team like that if you give them a sniff or get their confidence up, they’ll run away from you.”
COWBOYS VS WARRIORS – KEY STATS
* In the 14 matches between these two sides since the start of 2006, the home team has won 12 of those encounters.
* The Warriors have the second worst completion rate in the game (68.6 per cent), while the Cowboys are the best in the NRL (77.4 per cent).
* Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei needs just one try to pass Nigel Vagana (140) as the leading try-scorer from New Zealand in NRL history.