Johnathan Thurston.
Johnathan Thurston. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Thurston's ready for big battle at Belmore

NORTH Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston is expecting the gloves to come off at Belmore tomorrow night, tipping a fierce physical battle with his old Bulldogs club.

Thurston won a premiership with the Dogs in 2004 before heading to Townsville to prove himself as a playmaker - something he has to the point where he is widely acknowledges as the game's best player.

The clash will go a long way to determining which side makes the top four, with the Bulldogs fourth (32 points), the Cowboys fifth (30) and Brisbane sixth (30) with two games to play.

Thurston is under no illusions of what is awaiting him and his teammates despite helping the club to its last premiership victory.

"Personally I know what it's like playing there, you grow an extra leg and it's a hostile environment,” he said before the Cowboys headed south.

"It's a really good challenge for us to see where we are at, physically and mentally.

"The fans don't hold back. It's one of those suburban grounds where the crowd is right on top of you and can hear everything they say.”

Teammate Ethan Lowe said he thought the Cowboys found their form against the Warriors last week and were looking forward to the next challenge.

"It's definitely going to be a big week and with only a few more weeks until the finals it will be a pretty good trial run I guess,” he said.

"I've heard stories (about Belmore), but I have never played there.”

Thurston (pictured) praised fullback Lachlan Coote and five-eighth Michael Morgan for their contributions against the Warriors.

"Those guys certainly took a lot of pressure of me,” said Thurston who expected front-rower Matt Scott, to be named in the side to play.

Scott was a late scratching last weekend because of an ongoing back issue.

The Cowboys will need Scott to stand up to the big Bulldogs pack although they will not have to deal with Sam Kasiano, who will miss two weeks after striking Brisbane skipper Corey Parker in the face with his boot.


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