Marshall will be a

North Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston says the Cowboys will have to keep a straight line defence against his Wests Tigers counterpart Benji Marshall in tonight's big NRL clash in Townsville.

Thurston says Marshall is a special talent with brilliant footwork who'll be difficult to keep quiet. But Thurston, himself in white-hot form, is likely to cause the Tigers problems as well, with the vocal support of a sellout home crowd of 25,000 to spur him on.

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens says North Queensland is entitled to favouritism in the NRL grand final rematch. The Cowboys, the only unbeaten team after four rounds, are clear favourites with bookmakers.

TAB Sportsbet offering Wests Tigers seven-and-a-half points start.