Player news: Thurston & Marshall

Queensland State of Origin star Johnathan Thurston has agreed to extend his NRL contract with the North Queensland Cowboys until the end of the 2010 season.

The deal will keep the Dally M player of the year at the Cowboys for an additional three seasons beyond the term of his existing contract, which was set to expire at the end of next season. The 23-year-old playmaker has played in one Test and five State of Origin matches for Queensland since shifting from the Bulldogs to the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, another young gun of the game is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines. Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall's NRL season is officially over after he was instructed to undergo surgery on his injured shoulder next week.

Marshall re-injured his right shoulder in the Tigers' 24-20 loss to Penrith on Saturday night, with shoulder specialist Des Bokor confirming he will again need to go under the knife. The 21-year-old Kiwi has had both shoulders reconstructed previously - in 2003 and 2005 - and decided against another in April this year when he dislocated his right one against North Queensland in round five.

Marshall is expected to be out of the game for approximately eight or nine months.