Paul Kent: 'Smith wants 2 more years' QLD's Johnathan Thurston attempts to bust the tackle of Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods during Game 2 of the State of Origin series between the NSW Blues and QLD Maroons at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello
Paul Kent: 'Smith wants 2 more years' QLD's Johnathan Thurston attempts to bust the tackle of Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods during Game 2 of the State of Origin series between the NSW Blues and QLD Maroons at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello

Thurston rules out Origin comeback

JOHNATHAN Thurston has ruled out a fairytale Origin comeback as the Cowboys champion backed the representative-retirement bombshell dropped by his good mate Cameron Smith.

The Maroons are in crisis on the eve of the new series with Queensland coach Kevin Walters entering Origin I on June 6 without his Big Three of Smith, Thurston and Cooper Cronk.

Former Maroons stars Gary Belcher and Scott Sattler urged Thurston to consider coming out of rep retirement to save the Maroons, but the Cowboys co-captain admits there will be no Allan Langer-style renaissance.

"I'm no chance," Thurston said in Townsville as he prepares for Saturday night's clash against the Rabbitohs at 1300 Smiles Stadium.

"They would be scraping the barrel if Queensland came back to me.

"We have some halves on fire in Ben Hunt at the Dragons and Cameron Munster at Melbourne and 'Morgo' (teammate Michael Morgan) can get the job done.

 

"DCE (Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans) is another option and there's Anthony Milford (Brisbane pivot), so we have loads of depth there."

Asked if the Cowboys' dismal early-season form was a factor in his stance, Thurston said: "Kevvie hasn't contacted me at all and I don't think he would.

"I haven't been kicking well either so I'd probably get the cut from that (goalkicking duties).

"My representative career is well and truly over, let me make that clear."

Thurston, who played the last of his 37 Origin games last season before succumbing to shoulder surgery, was one of the few people who were aware of Smith's decision after receiving a phone call from the Queensland skipper.

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The former Queensland playmaker announced his retirement from representative football last year and can empathise with Smith on the mental and physical toll of State of Origin duties.

"I'm fully supportive of his decision," he said.

"He had well and truly made up his mind before he spoke to me.

"It's been an incredible career, he holds just about every record in the green and gold and the maroon jumpers.

"It was a pleasure to play beside him, we had some great memories together.

"I totally understands where he is coming from. The amount of games he has played and the position he has played is a testament to the person he is and the character he is.

Thurston broke NSW’s hearts so many times.
Thurston broke NSW’s hearts so many times.

"He's a once-in-a-generation type player. He has changed the way the nine role is played. Kicking out of dummy alf, ball playing, running through the middle third, you didn't see it 15 years ago from hookers.

"He has evolved that position and made it his own.

"We've been a big part of each other's lives and our families. We will stay in touch a long time after football is gone."

Cowboys hooker Jake Granville is one option to replace Smith but Thurston believes Broncos rival Andrew McCullough has earned the right to make his Origin debut.

"I'd have to say McCullough," he said.

"He has played over 200 first-grade games, he has a kicking game as well and he has played with the boys in that Queensland system.

"He has a great relationship with Ben Hunt if he is chosen at 7.

"Andrew is the likely choice."



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