North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston is still a chance of returning for Sunday’s NRL clash with the Wests Tigers despite not being named on Tuesday in the side.
Thurston is still recovering from a hamstring strain that had kept him out of the Cowboys’ last-start loss to Melbourne, and coach Paul Green says he isn’t going to take any risks ahead of the finals series.
The defending premiers are winless in all three games Thurston has missed this season.
“He’s still got a few things he has to tick off before he’s passed fit,” Green said on Tuesday.
“I could’ve named him and then pulled him out if he doesn’t go through that, or I don’t know, name him and bring him in late.
“I’m not going to take any unnecessary risks this close to the finals, but he’s not too far away. If he’s not right this week, he’ll definitely be right the week after.”
Green said he would know by Saturday’s captain’s run whether he would again be without his chief playmaker against the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
“He’s got a bit of a protocol – each time we train this week, he’s got to do a little bit more than the time before,” he said.
“We train Wednesday, Thursday off and train again Friday, Saturday, so I’ll have a fair idea by team run on Saturday.”
The fourth-placed Cowboys need to get back into the winner’s circle if they are to stave off fifth-placed Canterbury, who can sneak back into the top four should the Cowboys suffer back-to-back defeats.
North Queensland haven’t lost consecutive games since August last season.
“We’re just about close enough to the semis now to start having that in the back of our minds so we need to continually be looking to improve our game from here on in,” Green said.