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No fine for Cowboys over comments

North Queensland have escaped sanction for co-captain Johnathan Thurston's comments following their controversial NRL finals exit.
No fine for Cowboys over comments
by AAP

BRISBANE, Sept 17 AAP - North Queensland have escaped sanction for co-captain Johnathan Thurston's comments following their controversial NRL finals exit.

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said it would not take any action after reviewing Thurston's comments following Cronulla's 20-18 finals win marred by the seventh tackle try debacle.

It had been reported that Thurston had hinted at the Cowboys being the victim of an anti-Queensland conspiracy theory by a Sydney-centric NRL after a refereeing howler ended their finals hopes for the second straight year.

But Greenberg said at no stage did Thurston question the integrity of officials.

"There is a distinct difference between the comments themselves and some of the interpretations placed on of those comments," he said in a statement.

"At no stage was there a reference to the integrity of the officials.

"I have spoken with both Johnathan and Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain, who have each given an assurance that the comments were not directed at the administration or the officials.

"We have also fully reviewed the comments by Neil Henry and do not believe that they contravened the policy.

"The policy allows for coaches to express their disappointment at decisions and we respect that right.

"What does cause an issue is when a coach or player questions the integrity of an official or engages in ridicule or excessive criticism."

The NRL reviewed Thurston's comments when he returned home to Townsville on Sunday following their gut-wrenching weekend finals loss.

Reports claimed Thurston's comments hinted that the Cowboys were paying the price for Queensland's Origin success.

"State of Origin is killing the game, no doubt," Thurston told Townsville reporters on Sunday.

"The media want it and the fans in NSW want a South Sydney and (Roosters) grand final - that's what the game needs and is crying out for it.

"If you're playing for a team outside of Sydney, you're right up against it.

"No doubt about it. The boys feel it, we all feel it, it's tough.

"After games, all they want is an all-Sydney grand final.

"You can see it. I'm not the only one that can see it. It's there for everyone to see.

"Queensland dominate at State of Origin level and NSW is crying out for something and they seem to be getting it."

Henry had touched on conspiracy theories in their post match press conference.

"If you were (a believer of) a conspiracy theory, you'd go `hang on - they're so Sydney-centric here, they don't really care about the boys up north'," he said.

"The press talks about the ideal grand final - Souths-Roosters.

"Yeah, well we've just been dudded of the opportunity to make a dent in this competition.

"You get a bit bitter about it when it's happened two years in a row."

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