Thurston avoids surgery, return date unclear

Updated: 

Johnathan Thurston is expected to play again this NRL season, but the North Queensland Cowboys did not say when the star playmaker will return.

Thurston, 34, suffered a shoulder injury during Australia's 30-12 win over New Zealand in their Test on Friday.

Reports suggested Thurston's campaign was in doubt, as well as his participation in State of Origin for Queensland.

While not saying how long the half-back would be sidelined, the Cowboys insisted Thurston would be back in 2017.

"The injury does not require surgery, and it is not season-ending," the club said in a statement.

"Thurston will continue to be monitored and treated by the club's medical team and high performance unit."

A three-time Rugby League World Golden Boot winner, Thurston is set to retire at the end of the next season, though he plans to stop playing representative matches after 2017.

Thurston has featured in a record 36 consecutive Origin matches for Queensland but could miss this year's series opener on May 31.

As for the Cowboys, they are ninth on the NRL ladder ahead of facing the Canterbury Bulldogs on Thursday.