North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston has issued a warm public endorsement of his embattled club coach Neil “King” Henry on the eve of a make-or-break season.In the countdown to Friday night’s NRL season opener against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, the Cowboys co-captain moved to quash speculation he stands bitterly divided from Henry. Thurston admits the pair “butt heads” and have heated arguments, placing stress on their relationship at times, but he argued that was reflective of a healthy coach-captain partnership. “Our relationship is a mix of things … you do butt heads at times, you do have disagreements, but that’s healthy and those type of situations are due to the fact we both love the club so much and want it to do well,” Thurston said. “We have a good captain-coach relationship. I’ve known Neil for a while now, ever since I’ve been at the club (2005), and we’re both so passionate about the Cowboys. “I think the way the club is heading, our captain-coach relationship has been very good and it’s been good for a number of years.” The dual Dally M Medallist’s public vote of confidence is a timely boost for his under-fire coach, who reportedly has as little as six weeks to save his job. Henry, the bookmakers’ favourite to be the next NRL coach sacked, has been working hard to improve his management skills and strengthen relationships with his players. However, the tactical brilliance of the Maroons Origin assistant has never been at issue. And the arrival of seasoned stars Dallas Johnson and Brent Tate to the club’s leadership group, and the appointment of Test prop Matt Scott alongside Thurston as club leader, has helped move the Cowboys’ playing and coaching staff on to the same page. “King’s (Henry) a great tactical coach, that’s for sure, he does a lot of homework about footy and the teams we play against,” Thurston said. “We’re always very well prepared as a club heading into playing any team because he studies so well. “I’m really happy with the decisions Neil has made.” Henry is hunting his first derby win over the Broncos on Friday after four straight defeats in the Cowboys’ chair.

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