Cowboys on high alert over NSW No.9 Cook

Laine Clark
North Queensland are on high alert over electric South Sydney rake Damien Cook

His State of Origin days may be over but Johnathan Thurston faces the same dilemma as Queensland - how do you stop NSW hooker Damien Cook?

Retired Maroons great Thurston admitted he was still devastated after watching Cook inspire NSW's Origin II win that sealed their second series victory in 13 years.

Now South Sydney No.9 Cook has his sights set on Thurston's North Queensland ahead of Sunday's NRL clash in Cairns.

Thurston did not have to be reminded of Cook's talents - the Rabbitohs rake's explosive dummy half runs sparked a last gasp 20-19 South Sydney win when the sides met in round 11.

But Thurston - who ended his 37 Origin career last year - admitted it didn't make the job of stopping Cook any easier.

"His pace off the mark is electric and no doubt we need to be tight around there (ruck) and finish tackles," Thurston said.

"When the mids are laying a fair platform that's when he's at his most dangerous."

Thurston's pain over Queensland's rare series loss was obvious after game two when he panned the Maroons' "dumb" attack for failing to exploit NSW being a man down in the final 10 minutes.

Thurston defended his criticism of Queensland halfback Ben Hunt, saying he was just being "passionate about the jersey".

"I was just devastated like everyone else that we couldn't get it done," Thurston said.

Nothing will ease Thurston's Origin pain but the Cowboys playmaker hopes his NRL side can get some payback for their last loss against Souths.

North Queensland have lost five of their past six matches - all five losses have been by eight points or less with two by a solitary point.

"It was another game that got away from us," Thurston said of the round 11 clash.

"Hopefully we can right our wrongs this weekend."

It will be easier said than done stopping South Sydney's seven game streak.

But North Queensland are aiming for their third straight win over the Rabbitohs in their Cairns "away" game.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Anthony Seibold can become the first South Sydney coach since Jack Raynor in 1950 to win 12 of his first 16 games in charge with a victory

* North Queensland's 243 points is their least in their opening 15 matches of a season since 1999 (234pts)

* South Sydney are aiming to win eight straight for the first time since claiming 12 in a row in 1989.