IT is hard to believe now, but Cowboys maestro Johnathan Thurston was once tagged as too small and too slow to make it as an NRL player.
How the scouts at the long list of clubs who said that will be kicking themselves now. As a teenager Thurston was constantly knocked back by NRL clubs until former Canterbury recruitment boss Mark Hughes saw him play.
I spoke to Hughes recently for Rugby League Week and he recalled how the first full game he saw him play was an under-17s Origin for Queensland.
"And he was outstanding," Hughes said.
"He had all the footy instincts. There was his step, his awareness and his bravery even though he was small.
"Even at 17 Origin kids play for keeps, and he aimed up."
Creative, tough, and ultra competitive, Thurston will pull out the big play when it is most needed.
The Cowboys were down 16-nil last week against the Raiders and it was Thurston who pulled out some trademark manoeuvres to get them over the line.
With Thurston on the park it is hard to go past the Cowboys to beat the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.