There is not much Johnathan Thurston hasn’t done in the game. Now in his last year of an amazing career, there is one more thing he would dearly love. The 2018 Premiership to go out a winner.
He would join the likes of Mal Meninga who captained the great Canberra team to a Premiership in 1994, Glenn Lazuras with the Melbourne Storm in their maiden Premiership in 1999 and Royce Simmons also in a maiden Premiership for the Penrith Panthers in 1991.
Not many great players get to finish their careers lifting a trophy.
Thurston would love to go out with a Grand Final memory like Big Mal pumping his fist in celebrating the winning try. Or by doing a cartwheel like Lazo. Even better offering to have a drink with everyone like Roycie!
It’s hard to believe that the skinny kid with big ears, who even though was a standout as a schoolboy football, couldn’t get a start with an NRL club. Finally thrown a lifeline by the Bulldogs in 2001, he has made good judges look rather stupid.
After winning a Premiership with the Bulldogs in 2004 coming off the bench in jersey 18, it now seems unbelievable that the Bulldogs let Thurston go. In his first season with North Queensland, he took the Cowboys to a Grand Final in 2005.
Since 2005, he has turned a club once considered an easy beat to Premiership contenders every year. Along the way picking up personal accolades and awards. Dally M medals, Golden Boots, QLD and Australian representation.
A proud indigenous man, he has also represented the Indigenous All Stars and has been an active advocate and activist within the indigenous community. He is a role model not only to indigenous Australians but to all with the way he has conducted himself on or off the field.
After being so close so many times, Thurston finally took North Queensland to Premiership glory in 2015 in what was arguably the greatest Grand Final ever played. The 80th-minute try, followed by the missed conversion and finally the golden point field goal will be remembered to all who saw it for the rest of there lives.
Coach Paul Green was able to take a Thurston-less Cowboys team to the Grand Final again last year, where they were thoroughly outmatched by the Storm. The ability to get to a Grand Final without their best player has North Queensland primed as a Premiership favourite in 2018.
Thurston and the Cowboys are a huge chance to go one better in 2018. No one would begrudge Thurston going out a winner. Let’s hope he can stay injury free and get through the season.
Either way, Thurston will go out with his trademark laugh that is a certainty. Let’s hope it’s while holding on to the trophy and another Clive Churchill medal around his neck.
Can Thurston lift the Premiership trophy one last time before retirement?