No room for spoon on JT’s mantelpiece
JOHNATHAN Thurston has two premiership rings. He has no interest in adding a wooden spoon to his mantelpiece.
Since he took up rugby league 30 years ago, Thurston says he has never received the dreaded spoon.
Not at the Bulldogs. Not at the Cowboys. Not in the NRL lower grades. Not even during his junior career which began three decades ago with Brisbane-based club Sunnybank.
So now, in a year in which Thurston dreamt of a premiership finale in his final season in the NRL, the Cowboys champion is determined to avoid the ultimate nightmare.
Thurston insists there is too much at stake to allow Parramatta to gatecrash the party on Friday night. It is his final home game in Townsville, not to mention co-captain Matt Scott's 250th top-grade game and hooker Jake Granville's century in the NRL.
"I don't want the wooden spoon," Thurston said ahead of his emotion-charged farewell to Cowboys fans.
"I can't ever remember finishing last in a season, not even as a kid.
"We (the Cowboys) went close to finishing last in 2010, but Melbourne got stripped of all their points (for salary-cap rorting), so they collected the wooden spoon. We dodged a bullet there.
"To be honest, I never thought this season would finish like this for me, but I'm not naive enough to think all dreams come true.
"I've been very blessed and lucky to have had the career I've had, but I know we are in a battle now (to avoid the wooden spoon), so I'm not giving up yet."
In his 293rd game for the club on Friday night, the Cowboys will be banking on Thurston to produce one final masterclass to sink the Eels and deliver an appropriate last chapter on his career in Townsville.
Thurston will officially retire after Saturday week's away clash against the Titans and admits he has come to terms with his final fortnight.
"Two games to go, I'm savouring what is left," he said.
"I'm experienced enough to keep a lid on the emotion and just keep playing. It will be Matty Scott's 250th game so it's important as a team that we prepare well and make sure we give ourselves every chance of beating the Eels."
Cowboys coach Paul Green said North Queensland's revival over the past month was evidence of the side's true ability.
"You can look at it and think what might have been, but we always knew how good a team we could be," he said.
"It's been a difficult year for a number of reasons, but while it's frustrating, it's not surprising because I knew the quality we had.
"We haven't stopped fighting for each other and it shows the players still care about the jersey and care about each other."