Thurston to miss NRL All Stars match ahead of World Club Challenge


North Queensland Cowboys and Australia half-back Johnathan Thurston is to miss the NRL All Stars game in order to prepare for the World Club Challenge clash with Leeds Rhinos.

Thurston led the Cowboys to a maiden NRL title last year, kicking the match-winning drop-goal in golden-point extra time in October's Grand Final to beat Brisbane Broncos 17-16.

The 32-year-old, who was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for his performance in the showpiece, will hope to guide North Queensland to the world club title with a victory over the Rhinos at Headingley on Feburary 21.

And he has opted to forego the game between the Indigenous All Stars and a World XIII eight days earlier to aid his preparation. Greg Inglis will captain the Indigenous All Stars in his stead.

"I will always have great affection for the All Stars match and I am already aiming to be back for next year's game," Thurston said.

"But this is a unique opportunity to win the World Club Challenge and I want to do all I can to help the Cowboys achieve that goal."

Thurston - winner of the 2015 Golden Boot Award given to the player seen as the best in the world - is also unlikely to feature at the Auckland Nines tournament next month.

"I'll take my boots but I don't think I'll play," he added. "It's more precautionary. The body's pretty good actually.

"I'm preparing for the season and I don't want that risk of getting injured."