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Green says Thurston injury not serious

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/04/2017 Matt Encarnacion
Johnathan Thurston is helped from the field after injuring his calf against the Wests Tigers. © Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Johnathan Thurston is helped from the field after injuring his calf against the Wests Tigers.

North Queensland coach Paul Green is hopeful Johnathan Thurston's calf injury isn't as bad as first thought, suggesting he is a chance of turning out for Australia next month.

Green said the club was still in the process of identifying the extent of Thurston's injury but was jovial when discussing the health of his captain on Monday night.

"When they told me that he'd done his calf, I didn't believe them because if you've seen JT with his socks off, there's not much there to hold him up," Green said on Fox Sports' NRL 360.

"He's got a slight muscle strain there. It's not too bad - hopefully we'll see him back on the paddock sooner rather than later."

Thurston's setback adds to a mounting injury toll that already includes Matt Scott (ACL), Jake Granville (leg), Antonio Winterstein (arm), and Lachlan Coote (calf).

Shaun Fensom (leg) and Kane Linnett (leg) also failed to finish their last-start defeat to Wests Tigers, however Green said Justin O'Neill is set to come back from a hamstring strain.

Utility Ben Hampton or uncapped rookie Kyle Laybutt will wear the No.7.

"Ben Hampton's played there in the halves, we've also got Kyle Laybutt, another young guy coming through who's been out injured," Green said.

"We'll just assess those guys and work how we want to play in the next couple of weeks."

The fourth-year Cowboys coach urged the remaining members of his team to step up as they attempt to overturn a 29 per cent winning rate without their star halfback.

North Queensland have won just three of their past 13 games without Thurston on the field.

Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys passes the ball to a team mate during a NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers. © Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys passes the ball to a team mate during a NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers.

"We don't need any one player who thinks he's all of a sudden got to become JT. We just need everyone to contribute that little bit more," Green said.

"(Michael Morgan) has got a taste of rep footy the last couple of years, so he's got that experience under his belt. We'll need him to contribute a little bit more, and guys around him."

The Cowboys visit ladder-leading St George Illawarra on Saturday.

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