Their record without him is poor but North Queensland don’t feel any pressure to rush captain Johnathan Thurston back from injury.
The NRL premiers’ top-four hopes took a hit last Saturday with a 16-8 loss to Melbourne at Townsville – their first loss at home this year.
Thurston missed the match due to a slight hamstring strain, continuing the Cowboys struggles without their inspirational leader.
Since 2005 the Cowboys have won just 13 of 45 matches without Thurston – a winning percentage of just 28.8.
Fullback Lachlan Coote admits the Cowboys miss Thurston but doesn’t think the risk of worsening his injury by rushing him back for Sunday’s clash with in-form Wests Tigers.
“It’d be good to have him back but he’s got to get that hamstring right,” Coote said.
“You’ve got to get that injury right, especially coming towards the back end of the season and that run into the finals, it’s a crucial time.” One of those 13 wins for the Cowboys without Thurston came against the Tigers in round 11 last year.
Thurston was on State of Origin duty with Queensland as the Cowboys won 8-0 with Coote picking up a career-high 509 kicking metres in the star playmaker’s absence.
Coote says the performance against the Storm wasn’t too bad but the Cowboys just need to make the most of their chances.
“Our attack was there, we created some good opportunities, just that final execution,” he said. “The main thing we’ve got to take out of that is that our last play needs to improve.”