Give Cowboys NRL front row time: Green

Don't believe the hype.

North Queensland coach Paul Green has tried to play down the excitement surrounding his new front row of Matt Scott and Jordan McLean, warning it will take time for the star duo to gel ahead of their NRL season opener against Cronulla.

All eyes will be on North Queensland co-captain Johnathan Thurston on Friday night for his 300th NRL game and a club-record 271st appearance for the Cowboys.

But the combination of Scott and Kangaroos forward McLean also promises to be worth the price of admission after linking in the off-season.

Test prop Scott will finally return from a knee injury that had sidelined him since last season's second round.

It has only added to the hysteria around Cowboys co-captain Scott packing down for the first time with Melbourne recruit McLean, who looks set to pick up where he had left off from a stellar 2017.

Even the Cowboys' players haven't been able to hide their excitement, with back-rowers Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess this week licking their lips over the try-scoring opportunities that await with their front-row enforcers on board.

However, Green did his best to play down his dream prop pair before kicking the season off against a new-look Sharks.

Green was excited by his new bookends but warned fans that the formidable pairing needed time to click.

"Most take a while to hit their best at the start of the season - we will probably be no different," he said.

"As long as we are working hard in the little areas, that's what I want to see."

Green even reckoned it would be easy to keep a lid on expectations for Scott and McLean.

"I don't think it is too difficult. Matt Scott is coming back from a fair layoff and Jordan is new to the team," he said.

"Apart from the excitement of going out to play the game, I don't think the expectation part will come into it."

McLean faces a tough act to follow after winning a title with the Storm and featuring in Australia's Rugby League World Cup triumph in 2017 before heading north.

Thurston still believed the stage was set for another Cowboys-Sharks epic, after North Queensland knocked the 2016 premiers out of last year's finals with a 15-14 extra-time win.

Cronulla will boast new signings Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan.

"We've formed a fair rivalry over the years. Both teams have been knocking each other out of the finals the last few years so they will come up here with a point to prove," Thurston said of Cronulla.

"No doubt they will be disappointed the way they exited ... but they have recruited well.

"We need to make sure we are ready to go otherwise they will certainly do a job on us."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* North Queensland have won just 17 of 44 games played against Cronulla and only three of their past nine

* Cronulla have won 12 of 22 matches in Townsville

* Luke Lewis will play his 100th match for Cronulla, after joining them in 2013