Johnathan Thurston does a lap of honour after his last NRL game in Townsville. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Johnathan Thurston does a lap of honour after his last NRL game in Townsville. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Thurston uses farewell speech to hail a special teammate

IN TYPICAL Johnathan Thurston fashion, he's deflected some of his own attention from his farewell to his co-captain Matt Scott.

Scott reached a significant milestone, becoming only the first forward to reach 250 games for the Cowboys, and just the third player overall after Thurston and Matt Bowen to hit the rare mark.

"To Matty Scott, I've played a lot of football alongside you," he began.

"You're only the third Cowboy to play 250 games for the Cowboys, the first forward to play 250 games for the Cowboys... Mate it's been an absolute pleasure and honour to play behind you."

A visibly emotional Thurston also thanked the club where he has played 14 seasons since moving from the Bulldogs as a 21-year-old.

"To the Cowboys organisation, you've helped shape me into the man I am today... I came here as a 21-year-old, 22-year-old, and there's been some incredible memories here and I can't thank you enough for your support on the field and off the field," he said.

And while he has had better memories than 2018 in terms of the club's on-field performance, he thanked the current crop of players for not dropping their heads.

"To my teammates, you're only as good as the players around you and I've been blessed over the years to play in some great teams and I can't thank you enough," he said.

"Especially this year, I know it's been tough for all of us but your attitude that you've turned up to training each day, every day, I couldn't ask for more and that's what we ask of each other.

"I'd like to thank the fans that have supported me all over these years, it's been an incredible journey I've loved representing the North Queensland region and the Cowboys, and I've loved representing my state, and I've certainly loved representing my country in the green and gold."

Of course, the biggest expression of gratitude went to his family, and scenes post-game of Thurston embracing his wife Samantha and reining in his girls only added to the wonderful moment for the Immortal-in-waiting.