CLASH OF ORIGIN MATES: Cowboys playmaker Jonathan Thurston gets the ball away as he is about to be tackled by the Storm's Cameron Smith.
CLASH OF ORIGIN MATES: Cowboys playmaker Jonathan Thurston gets the ball away as he is about to be tackled by the Storm's Cameron Smith. DAVID CROSLING

Cowboys have no fears of the Storm's fortress

RUGBY LEAGUE: Cowboys coach Paul Green says his players hold no fears of playing Melbourne at its AAMI Park fortress in tonight's potential grand final preview.

Of the four finals games this weekend, the clash between the defending premier North Queensland and minor premier Storm is rated the blockbuster, and for good reason.

Firstly it pits great mates and future Immortals Cameron Smith against his Queensland and Australian teammate Johnathan Thurston in one of many great battles that will influence the result.

The ledger at AAMI Park, which usually favours Melbourne significantly against its rivals, is 2-2.

Green says that doesn't mean a lot, but gives his players confidence and the knowledge they can win.

When the sides last met in Townsville, Melbourne emerged 18-6 winners but Thurston did not play.

Green said the players had a real "spring in their step” this week and had quickly put the alleged egg-bombing incident involving international forwards Jason Taumalolo behind them and moved on.

"We've dealt with it and moved on,” the Cowboys coach said.

Rather than letting the incident, in which Taumalolo and four other Cowboys players have been charged by police with wilful damage after allegedly egging several cars on Wednesday night, be a distraction, Green said it could help the side to a win.

"If you know Jason he is a humble young kid,” Green said.

"He is very contrite about what he did and he feels he let his team-mates and the club down.

"If he feels that, the best thing he can do to make it up is go out and play really well for his teammates.”

Green said he thought Melbourne was a better team this year than the one the Cowboys knocked out of the finals last year.

"They had an another year together. Their combinations are better. They're defending better and I think they're probably more motivated than they were last year when we beat then,” he said.

Green said Melbourne was champion at controlling the ruck and he hoped the referees were consistent with how they interpreted the rules.



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