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Cowboys confident over Sydney NRL hoodoo

Statistics suggest otherwise but a confident Johnathan Thurston reckons the only thing likely to stop North Queensland from winning Friday night's knockout NRL semi-final against Manly is themselves.
Cowboys confident over Sydney NRL hoodoo
by NRL

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Sept 12 AAP - Statistics suggest otherwise but a confident Johnathan Thurston reckons the only thing likely to stop North Queensland from winning Friday night's knockout NRL semi-final against Manly is themselves.

The Cowboys will need all of the assurance shown by their champion playmaker on Wednesday before they head to what has been an NRL graveyard for them - Sydney.

Cowboys co-captain Thurston claimed they would book a preliminary final berth if they avoid shooting themselves in the foot against the defending premiers at Allianz Stadium.

"The only way we will lose is if we are our own worst enemy," he said.

"We've been building to something pretty special. I think we can give it a good shake.

"We are confident but it's a quiet confidence, not an arrogance."

The Cowboys like to reflect on their five-match winning run. They may be wise not to look further back in the record books before heading to Sydney.

Overall, they have just 33 wins in 112 games at 29 per cent in the NSW capital.

Since 2008, they have tasted victory only four times in 25 games.

And in their last 10 outings in Sydney, they have won just once.

Their record when playing under Shayne Hayne, one of Friday's referees, is also grim.

Under Hayne, they have won nine of 22 games overall - four from 11 in away matches.

But Thurston preferred to cast back to their last two games played in NSW, a 32-22 win over St George Illawarra in Wollongong and their 36-22 demolition of Cronulla in Sydney.

"There's no doubt every time we play there that media bring it up," said Thurston of the Cowboys' Sydney record.

"But in saying that I'm confident with the squad that we've got now that we've got the confidence to win anywhere.

"Our last two games in Sydney and Wollongong - against teams that were really playing for something - we were great.

"So that record or whatever people are saying about Sydney, it holds no fears for us.

"It's just another footy ground and I think with the squad we've got now, if we get it right on the night, we're going to be tough to beat."

And on Hayne, Thurston added: "I've never had any dramas under Shane.

"I can't really put my finger on it (the poor record under him) at all.

"Hopefully we're playing with the right frame of mind that we don't give them anything to blow the whistle for."

Thurston admitted their last finals clash against Manly - a 42-8 shellacking in 2011's first round - "still hurts".

But he was more concerned about their last clash with the Sea Eagles which marked the last time North Queensland tasted defeat - a tight 8-6 round 22 loss.

"We've had a look at some of the vision there. Our error rate was very high and our completion rate was very low - we made it very hard for ourselves," he said.

"If we do the same again the result will be similar."




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