Even as the Cowboys racked up a cricket score against battling Wests Tigers on Saturday night, skipper Johnathan Thurston remained on the field.

No stars were given an early shower in North Queensland’s 64-6 hammering of the embattled Wests Tigers on Saturday night because coach Paul Green feared it would make the club look “soft”.

Typically, when the Cowboys rack up massive scores star halfback Johnathan Thurston is taken from the field for the final stages.

But no more.

With the Cowboys surging into fourth on the NRL ladder with their record win over the Tigers, Green is building a harder edge to his side which has rocketed into premiership contention.

And when asked if he was tempted to give Thurston an early finish to the game he replied bluntly: “No”.

“I was asked that a couple of times and I just think that would be a bit of a soft mentality,” he said.

“We’re preparing for bigger games than what we played tonight.

“It’s about having that tough mentality.”

Adding to the club’s quest to match it with the hardest teams in the competition, it was not the 64 in the scoreline they were celebrating, it was the 6 they were lamenting.

“It was probably one we shouldn’t have let through,” co-captain Matt Scott said of Aaron Woods’ try.

“It was pretty soft, up the middle of the field.

“We’ve had a bit of pride in the last couple of weeks in particular, our defence has been really good.

“We were disappointed as a team in that.”

And with big games on the road against top four sides Penrith and South Sydney coming up, Matt Scott said improvements would need continue.

“We’ve still got to improve I think to match it with some of the best teams in the comp,” he said.

“We’ve got a big couple of weeks ahead of us away from home and we’re going to have to keep improving to play well down there.”

Test prop James Tamou was again omitted from the Cowboys side after failing to recover from a neck injury sustained against Canterbury a fortnight ago.

That is an aggravation of a bulging disc he suffered in 2013, something the club will continue to monitor.

“We want to make sure we’re taking into consideration his longterm health, it’s not just about next week for him,” Green said.