Superstar Johnathan Thurston has revealed he came very close to signing an overseas rugby union deal back in 2010.
The retirement-bound Thurston admitted he was lured in by big money deals coming from rugby union clubs in France and Japan during a dark time in his incredible career.
But winning a maiden title for the North Queensland Cowboys ultimately kept the future rugby league immortal in Australia, where in 2015, he was finally able to achieve that dream.
The 35-year-old will run out onto a rugby league field for the final time in front of his beloved home crowd this Friday night as the Cowboys take on Parramatta at 1300SMILES stadium in Townsville.
This game will decide which team will receive the dreaded wooden spoon for 2018, with the Cowboys aiming to do all they can to send Thurston out a winner.
The period in 2010 where the union deals were flowing in was when Thurston was arrested in Brisbane for public nuisance, and he stated they came at a difficult time for him.
“It has been a long journey,” Thurston told the media on Tuesday.
“I have had offers from rugby, from other clubs, big money (rugby) offers … from Japan and France.
“That came at a time in my life that was pretty rough here.
“But I love living in Townsville, in North Queensland. And at those times there was unfinished business for me.
“I always wanted to bring a premiership to North Queensland so to be able to do that is probably the best memory I have got wearing the North Queensland jersey.”
North Queensland will also be celebrating the milestones of Matt Scott’s 250th game and also hooker Jake Granville’s 100th game in the NRL.
Thurston remains adamant all emotions will be kept in check for 80 minutes as they aim to get the win and precious two points.
“We have got enough experienced blokes here to make sure we keep a lid on it,” Thurston said.
“Matty will become the first forward to play 250 games for the club which is a massive milestone and it’s Jakey’s 100th game — it will be a good night.
“For me, I am just enjoying what is left. It’s only a couple of weeks left. I am just trying to savour the moments I have left with them.”
Speaking with media on Tuesday, Thurston tried to remain emotionless as he enters the final few weeks of his playing career.
The playmaker suggested he will be hanging up the boots after the Cowboys final game on the Gold Coast in a fortnight’s time, rather than making his last swansong in the All Stars clash in 2019.
“I am done and dusted mate. Next Saturday will be my last game,” Thurston said.