North Queensland coach Paul Green has revealed Johnathan Thurston could not have had a worse preparation for his long awaited injury return.
But the Cowboys mentor says JT is set to bounce back to his best after overcoming a stomach bug ahead of Friday night's blockbuster NRL trial against Melbourne.
Thurston looked rusty in his cameo after an eight month shoulder injury in last week's trial loss to Wests Tigers in Cairns.
Green revealed his star playmaker had been battling illness in the lead-up but was now fully fit for Friday's 2017 grand final re-match.
The trial will double as a testimonial for the Cowboys co-captain and Storm skipper Cameron Smith.
"He had a pretty disrupted preparation, actually he couldn't have had a worse preparation last week," Green said.
"He had a little tummy bug early in the week and a few other things."
Green said he was still happy with what he saw from Thurston's first half stint.
"The reason that we played him was to get a bit of confidence, take a couple of hits and also make a couple of tackles with the shoulder," he said.
"And I think we achieved that."
Thurston and co-captain Matt Scott will lead a full strength Cowboys squad including Melbourne recruit Jordan McLean playing against his former club.
Green admitted the testimonial at a packed Suncorp Stadium may not feel like it but North Queensland would try to treat the match like a trial.
"We haven't spoken about it as such but I think the players feel that (it's more than trial)," Green said.
"It's going to have more interest in it than a normal trial which is a good thing.
"From that point of view I think it will feel a bit different but for us it is an opportunity to get us ready for that round one game."
Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Gavin Cooper play their first game of the year for North Queensland while fullback Lachlan Coote has been cleared of a hamstring niggle.