O'Donnell returns for Sharks clash

North Queensland received a welcome boost on Friday on the eve of their NRL match against Cronulla with lock Luke O'Donnell set to play a week earlier than expected after a hip operation.

O'Donnell had a clean out of the joint after re-injuring his leg three weeks ago in the Cowboys' round six clash against the Warriors.

O'Donnell passed a searching fitness test on his troublesome joint, the same one injured in a now infamous "wishbone tackle" last year, to bolster a Cowboys forward pack decimated by injury.

O'Donnell's inclusion should add some much needed experience to the team which has star playmaker Johnathon Thurston in severe doubt to play due to an ankle ligament tear suffered in training with the Australian Test team on Thursday.