14 May 2010

Thurston unlikely to play against Warriors

12:01 pm on 14 May 2010

The North Queensland coach Neil Henry has all but ruled out a surprise comeback for playmaker Johnathan Thurston in Saturday night's National Rugby League match against the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland.

While Henry pulled a rabbit out of the hat on Monday by selecting fullback Matt Bowen for his long-awaited return, Henry hosed down talk of a similar trick with Thurston.

Bowen scored a spectacular 80-metre try in his first game back since 2009 after knee surgery but there's little expectation Thurston, who's still carrying an AC joint injury, will be back to perform similar theatrics.

Henry did give forwards Carl Webb (ankle) and Luke O'Donnell (knee) an outside chance of playing but he wasn't holding out much hope for Thurston who injured his shoulder against Melbourne a fortnight ago.

The Warriors, coming off a bye, have no such concerns and will welcome back injured players Simon Mannering (hamstring) into the second row in place of Lewis Brown, Manu Vatuvei (hamstring) onto the wing along with Kevin Locke, and halfback Brett Seymour (thumb).

With Seymour back in the No.7 jersey, the creative James Maloney replaces Joel Moon at five-eighth for the Mt Smart Stadium clash.

Locke comes onto the right wing for Patrick Ah Van, who has a broken jaw and is expected to be out of action for four weeks.