The Sydney Roosters' NRL pain could turn into more woe for NSW after the visitors suffered a 42-10 mauling by North Queensland and had Blues hopeful Boyd Cordner hobble off with an ankle injury.
The defending premiers had plenty to play for at 1300 Smiles Stadium following a week in which halfback Mitchell Pearce was stood down and fined by the club after a drunken night in Kings Cross.
But it became a seven-day period to forget for the Roosters who were comprehensively outplayed and also picked up an injury concern.
Cordner limped off in the 32nd minute after a clash with Brent Tate that left him with a suspected syndesmosis injury that could cost him up to six weeks on the sideline, meaning he'd be unavailable for the entire Origin series.
It follows Blues 2013 teammate Pearce's well-publicised issues that have left coach Laurie Daley pondering his selection while injuries have already ruled out NSW potentials Andrew Fifita and Glenn Stewart.
Greg Bird has been suspended for Origin I.
While the Roosters wilted Johnathan Thurston delivered some milestone magic, his 200th game in Cowboys colours in front of 15,361 fans in Townsville one of his best.
Thurston, a certainty to be named for Queensland on Monday night to play his 28th Origin, laid on three tries, kicked seven goals and scored a try of his own.
He kicked perfectly for Tariq Sims to impersonate Superman with his comical swan dive over the tryline, wrong-footed makeshift half Sonny Bill Williams to put Kane Linnett over for his second try and threatened with every touch of the ball.
The game was all but over at halftime as the Cowboys raced out to a 30-6 lead.
Linnett bagged a hat trick while Thurston, Sims, Tate and Matthew Wright all scored tries in the rout.
It was also the third straight win for the resurgent North Queenslanders, who languished near the bottom of the ladder after posting just two wins in the opening seven rounds.
There was further insult for the sloppy Roosters with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck put on report for a high tackle on Linnett in the 50th minute.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was not ready to concede the worst for Cordner, but said the Kangaroos forward was nursing a "sore ankle".
"It's a bit early (to rule him out of Origin). I'm no doctor, we haven't got a diagnosis yet," he said.
Robinson was disappointed in the way his team played, but didn't believe the decision to stand down Pearce was the main issue.
"I don't think it was down to Mitchell, I think we've got enough good players to cover that," he said.
"We just missed a bit of character tonight."
Cowboys coach Paul Green was pleased with his team's performance, but the gloss had been taken off with Gavin Cooper (dislocated hip) and Cameron King (anterior cruciate ligament) facing lengthy stints on the sideline.
"A bit of a costly night for us," he said.
"We'll see how they settle down tomorrow and do the usual scans.
"It was a really good night from our point of view and I was pleased with the way we played, really pleased to make it a memorable night for Johno.
"He certainly deserves it for what he has done for our club so far."
North Queensland Cowboys 42 (K Linnett 3 T Sims B Tate J Thurston M Wright tries J Thurston 7 goals) Sydney Roosters 10 (A Minichiello D Mortimer tries J Maloney goal) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Adam Gee. Crowd: 15,361
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