Johnathan Thurston’s Test jersey is under threat but it’s the least of the North Queensland playmaker’s worries.
The Cowboys’ dire early-season form means Thurston has given little thought to Queensland teammate Daly Cherry-Evans’ compelling case for a halves spot in the May 2 Anzac Test against New Zealand.
“That’s the furtherest thing from my mind,” he said in Townsville. “I’m totally focussed on playing for the Cowboys.
“It’s time that we need to stand up and start winning some games because, if not, the season is going to get away from us.”
With North Queensland again failing to fill their billing as an NRL contender, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens revealed incumbent five-eighth Thurston wasn’t an automatic Test selection.
Sheens admitted Manly halfback Cherry-Evans was pressuring both the Cowboys co-captain and Melbourne’s Cooper Cronk for the Allianz Stadium international.
Thurston was back near his best form in last weekend’s controversial loss to Manly when the Cowboys let a big second-half lead slip at Gosford.
Halves partner Robert Lui has paid the price, dumped from the side and utility Ray Thompson reinstated in the No.7 jersey to play Parramatta in Townsville.
Thurston on Wednesday moved to take the pressure off Thompson, saying he merely needed to focus on doing his own job, and not overplay his hand.
The silver lining for the 13th-placed Cowboys is three straight home matches at a time their attack is starting to gel.
“I was really pleased with the way that we played attacking-wise (against Manly), we just need to be better towards the back-end of the game to close it out but I’m sure we’ll learn from that,” Thurston said.