Thurston not Cowboys' sole threat, warns McDermott


Brian McDermott has warned Leeds Rhinos that there is more to North Queensland Cowboys than Golden Boot winner Johnathan Thurston ahead of Sunday's World Club Challenge.

Thurston etched his named among the greats by captaining the Cowboys to victory in a dramatic NRL final against Brisbane Broncos last season.

Widely accepted as one of the greatest players of all time, the 32-year-old was recognised with a third Golden Boot award, making him the first man to win the prize on three occasions.

Rhinos coach McDermott recognises that Thurston is sure to have an influence when the sides contest the World Club Challenge at Headingley on Sunday, but insists the Cowboys are not a one-man team.

"They've got some great players. I think Johnathan Thurston is rightly regarded as the best player in the world at the moment," McDermott told Omnisport. 

"He's certainly going to have an influence over the game, whether that's while he's carrying the ball or just how he makes his team-mates play. I think we just need to be good across everything on Sunday.

"What North Queensland did [in the Grand Final], in such a dramatic fashion, was brilliant. And in terms of achievement, he'd be right up there with the best, leading his team to get over a very strong Brisbane team.

"Where he ranks among the greats, you'd have to ask someone better qualified, but he's certainly a good player. 

"I think there's a real danger of focusing too much on him and paying lip service to the team. We've got to be good across the board."

The Rhinos dominated domestically last season and won a treble of Challenge Cup, League Leaders' Shield and Grand Final.

However, the defence of their Super League title has started poorly, as an opening-day loss at home to Warrington Wolves was followed by a 56-12 hammering at the hands of Widnes Vikings on Sunday.

McDermott, though, is confident that the Widnes result will have no bearing against the Cowboys.

"It's not ideal, but this was always going to be a standalone game," he added. "If we had a really good performance at the weekend we'd still have had to put that to bed and not rely on that too much either. We're looking forward to this.

"Regardless of what happened in round two, we were always going to be playing in such a big occasion, the World Club Challenge, the right to be regarded as the best team in the world. It's something that we're really looking forward to."