Thurston looks to be back
Prince will wait another week
Hunt will miss
Fitzgibbon will miss
For more injuries and info visit our NRL injury list
Thurston back but Prince delayed
By Wayne Heming and Steve Jancetic
August 12, 2008
NORTH Queensland half-back Johnathan Thurston still has a few hurdles to overcome before being cleared to make his NRL return against Gold Coast on Saturday night.
Despite rating himself "hundreds" last week to make it back against the Titans - the champion half-back has been named to lead the Cowboys as they go in search of back to back wins.
"The reason we've picked him is because we're confident he'll play," Cowboys coach Ian Millward said.
"Yesterday he did a bit of running on the treadmill and he's going to do some ballwork with us on Wednesday and he goes back to the specialist on Friday.
"He had a bit of a bounce in his step last week but he didn't get a clearance but this week we're very confident he will."
But the Dairy Farmers Stadium clash has been robbed of the mouth-watering battle between Thurston and his Queensland Origin halves partner, Scott Prince.
Prince had also been hoping to make a comeback this week to push his World Cup claims and help the Titans in their late bid for a finals spot.
But the premiership-winning half was advised by his club's medical staff to delay his return from a broken arm for one more week after having fresh x-rays.
Prince, named in national coach Ricky Stuart's World Cup squad as a halves back-up, is keen to get back on the field after breaking his arm in Queensland's third game series decider win last month.
Thurston hasn't played since undergoing knee surgery after helping Queensland win their third successive Origin series last month.
His return to the No.7 pushes Travis Burns to five-eighth and allows Sione Faumuina, who was excellent against the Bulldogs last weekend, to shift back into the pack.
The Titans, who have lost Mark Minichiello to an old ankle injury, have named hooker Nathan Friend at half-back this weekend with Mat Rogers returning from suspension at five-eighth.
Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler has named a monster pack for Friday night's trip to Melbourne with New South W alesprop Willie Mason selected at lock.
Mark O'Meley, David Shillington, Lopini Paea and Anthony Tupou have also been named to start with skipper Craig Fitzgibbon out with an ankle injury.
Wests Tigers welcome back skipper Brett Hodgson at full-back, but news of his return has been dulled by the loss of second rower Todd Payten for three weeks due to suspension.
"I did a couple of good sessions this morning so I'm reasonably confident I'll be right to go," said Hodgson, who hasn't played since injuring his calf in the Tigers' round 18 loss to the Storm.
"I've been hanging to get out there, I'm a terrible spectator and I want to get out there as much as possible."
Bulldogs lock Reni Maitua won't play again this season and is out of the World Cup - where he was scheduled to play for Samoa - due to impending shoulder surgery.
His place in the blue and white pack for Saturday night's meeting with Penrith has been taken by Garry Warburton.