Thompson will partner Thurston against the Titans on Saturday after new signing Robert Lui failed to overcome a knee problem.
But Thurston says Thompson’s inclusion is well-deserved.
“Ray played every minute of every game last year so I thought he deserved his spot,” Thurston said.
“No doubt Robert Lui’s put a lot of pressure on him but Ray’s trained exceptionally well and everything that’s been asked of him he’s done like a professional.
“He’s got that first opportunity there and he’ll be looking to make the position his own.”
Experienced centre Brent Tate is still a doubt for the clash at Dariy Farmers Stadium, but Thurston is excited nonetheless.
“It’s not far away now. I’m a little bit anxious but really looking forward to it,” he said.
“All the clubs have obviously had a really good pre-season and now’s the time to put the finishing touches on it and hopefully have a successful year.”