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Qld star Thurston has mojo back: Meninga

Watching Johnathan Thurston concede a try - rather than create one - has convinced Queensland coach Mal Meninga that his Maroons playmaker has his mojo back.
Qld star Thurston has mojo back: Meninga
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, May 30 AAP - Watching Johnathan Thurston concede a try - rather than create one - has convinced Queensland coach Mal Meninga that his Maroons playmaker has his mojo back.

But Meninga admits he is keeping "everything crossed" that expectant father Thurston will be able to display his new-found form in next week's State of Origin opener and extend his record run.

North Queensland fans have found it hard to watch the pre-season title favourites' underwhelming NRL season start.

However, Meninga has liked what he has seen of Cowboys pivot Thurston of late - even in North Queensland's shock 22-20 last-start loss to lowly Wests Tigers.

"I look behind the scenes at how competitive he is," Meninga said of Thurston.

"An example was last weekend when they (Wests Tigers) scored a try down the left-hand side of the field and Johnathan was the last man chasing.

"To me that says he has his mojo back, that he's got his competitiveness back.

"And that is great for us heading into Origin."

But it remains to be seen whether Thurston will be able to extend his Origin record of 24 straight games.

Thurston, the only player to feature in every match during Queensland's stunning seven straight series wins, and his fiancee Samantha are expecting their first child on June 8 - three days after Origin I.

Thurston says he will choose family over football if required to make a mercy dash back to Townsville for the birth.

"It's their decision, if he decides to go then so be it," Meninga said.

"But we've got everything crossed the baby doesn't come too soon - and hopefully Samantha has her legs crossed as well."

But Thurston claimed Origin was his focus for now, thanks to his fiancee.

"She said before I left that I concentrate on doing my job down here and prepare the best I can - everything at the home front is pretty good," he said.

"It's just a really exciting time for us. I am looking forward to the next chapter in our lives.

"The birth is over a week away. We are very confident it won't come on Wednesday."

Still, Thurston sounded like he was planning something special for Wednesday night after regaining his on-field powers.

"It's been patchy at the start of the year but the last few weeks I feel I have been building towards something," he said.

Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans is on standby for Thurston.

"There is a slight bit of uncertainty," Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk said of the odds of Thurston missing Origin I.

"But I am supremely confident that Johnathan will play. If not, Daly will slip in there and do the job."


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