In the midst of his farewell season, Johnathan Thurston is set to face one of his fellow Australian rugby league stars for the final time in his illustrious career.
As his struggling North Queensland Cowboys side travel to face South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday, he will line up against Greg Inglis for the final time before his retirement having featured in the same team as him for both the Queensland Maroons and their national team. ‘GI’, indeed, is one of Thurston’s closest friends off the field and the half-back reflected on the time he has spent in the game with Inglis. “A lot of my best memories on the footy field have been with GI outside me in the Maroons and Kangaroos jersey,” he shared, remarking that he hadn’t thought about it being their last encounter. “I’m a bit sad now,” he added.
Interestingly, despite the fact that they are in a lowly thirteenth spot in the league ladder, eleven places beneath Inglis’ Rabbitohs, Thurston believes that the contest this weekend will be a close one – much like their previous face-off in May. “It’s another game that got away from us, we were close but close isn’t a win so hopefully we can right our wrongs this weekend and get the two points and get a bit of confidence out of it,” he remarked, recalling the one point defeat last month following a late penalty which South Sydney kicked to win the two competition points in a 20-19 victory. “They’re playing some really good football, their halves are kicking well, they’re running the ball, the Burgess boys are laying a fair platform for their halves so we’re going to have our work cut out for us but that’s what we want, we want to be challenged.”
Keen to prolong his NRL career for that bit longer, Thurston is hoping for an unbeaten end to the season, still harbouring hopes that the Cowboys can sneak into the top eight and the competition’s finals series. Nevertheless, if North Queensland don’t reach the play offs, the 35-year-old – who is Australia’s record international points scorer – can look back on a superb career, one which has seen him star in representative jerseys alongside Inglis. “When I retire and become old and fat I’ll be able to look back on those memories and hopefully have a beer or two with him,” he suggested.