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Bowen at peace with JT leaving NQ
Laine Clark
20:16 AEST Mon Feb 4 2013

It kills him to say it, but Matt Bowen reckons he is at peace with NRL partner-in-crime Johnathan Thurston leaving the North Queensland Cowboys.

Bowen has combined with Test pivot Thurston in an impressive NRL highlights reel.

Yet Bowen understands how the off-contract Thurston could be swayed by interest from a reported pack of 10 rival clubs led by Penrith.

Bowen - recovering from shoulder surgery - joined Thurston at the inaugural Indigenous player camp on Queensland's Sunshine Coast ahead of this weekend's All Stars clash in Brisbane.

And he wouldn't be surprised if Thurston walked away at the end of the 2013 NRL season.

"What decision he makes I am all for it. If he decides to move then good on him," Bowen told AAP.

The Cowboys hierarchy had hoped the recent re-signing of controversial Test prop James Tamou would help convert the string of off-contract stars at North Queensland this season, including Bowen, Matt Scott and Brent Tate.

But even Bowen had been kept guessing about Thurston's intentions ahead of the season kick-off.

"Johno is keeping his cards close to his chest," he said.

"Personally I will be right behind whatever decision he makes."

Still, Bowen hoped Tamou had sent a message about the Cowboys program by signing on until 2016.

"Definitely. Jimmy came up here and signed on. He is playing well and is only going to get better," he said.

Bowen believed he would be fully fit by the Cowboys' final trial against the Gold Coast Titans at Mackay on February 23.

He will miss the All Stars clash but still believed it was relevant - despite the likes of Melbourne's Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk brushing it in order to be fit for the World Club Challenge against English champions Leeds.

"It is (relevant). A lot of people want to play in this game," Bowen said of the All Stars clash.

"Obviously there is the World Club Challenge and that is how they (Melbourne) want to start the season.

"Speaking from the Indigenous side of things these boys really want to play for that jersey and their people."