Johnathan Thurston, Co-Captain of the Cowboys gets a pass away during the Round 4 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Penrith Panthers at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville, Thursday, March 29, 2018. (AAP Image/Michael Chambers) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Johnathan Thurston, Co-Captain of the Cowboys gets a pass away during the Round 4 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Penrith Panthers at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville, Thursday, March 29, 2018. (AAP Image/Michael Chambers) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

JT forecasts tweaks as Cowboys search for spark

COWBOYS champion Johnathan Thurston has conceded he's not happy with certain aspects of his game as he and halves partner Michael Morgan look to iron out their early season kinks.

Aside from a superb second half in the round two loss to Brisbane, Thurston has been well contained by rivals in his first four matches back from shoulder surgery.

Thurston urged the Cowboys, looking to break a three-game losing streak against the unbeaten Warriors in Auckland on Saturday, to eventually play more expansively as they find their feet.

The four-time Dally M medallist has a hit list of aspects of his game he wants to improve before his blockbuster halback battle with Warriors lynchpin Shaun Johnson.

Johnathan Thurston is struggling to gel with Michael Morgan.
Johnathan Thurston is struggling to gel with Michael Morgan.

"It (pace of game) has been challenging but I'm glad to be back around the boys and playing footy," Thurston said on Wednesday.

"There's some areas I need to be better at. Definitely getting my defence right and my fifth tackle options, (as well as) my kick selection, there's a few things to work on."

Penrith's line speed successfully starved Thurston of time and space in last week's 33-14 home loss.

The 34-year-old confirmed he has spoken at length with Morgan on how they can enhance each other's best assets in their reunited halves partnership.

"We've had a nice chat during the week and certainly we're trying to put some structures there where we can get the best out of each other," Thurston said.

"(With teams rushing up) I just need to be better prepared, get a bit more depth and get the ball earlier.

"I could be used as a decoy as well, it's playing with eyes up and executing the plays."

Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston at training. Picture: Evan Morgan
Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston at training. Picture: Evan Morgan

Some experts including former halfback great Peter Sterling, has branded the Cowboys' attack predictable at times this year.

Asked if the Cowboys are playing too structured, Thurston said: "Both sides of the ruck we've got Morgo and (fullback) Benny Hampton who can worry teams with their speed, and ball running as well," Thurston said.

"They've got great vision and it's not just on them to play eyes up. If our big boys see an opportunity to pass or play out the back or tip it on, the coaching staff encourage us to do that.

"Once we get our completion rate up to a high enough level the confidence will come through and we'll be able to play more expansive footy."

Thurston attributed much of the basis behind the Warriors' resurgence to five-eighth Blake Green, who has given them much needed direction and composure since joining from Manly.

"It's no coincidence that wherever Blake Green goes, teams are having success," Thurston said.

"He's freed up Johnson to do what he does best and that's second phase play, getting the ball in some space and using his speed and footwork to really hurt teams.

"It's a challenge for us as a team to defend that and hopefully we can put some pressure on them when they've got the ball."



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