Johnathan Thurston has ruled out a return to the Origin arena. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Johnathan Thurston has ruled out a return to the Origin arena. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Thurston gives comeback talk cold shoulder

JOHNATHAN Thurston has categorically quashed any chance of making an Origin comeback after the retirement of Cameron Smith, vowing to devote all his energies to dragging the Cowboys out of the abyss.

A handful of former Queensland players believe the champion halfback, who retired from representative football after this year, could help save the Maroons after Smith joined Cooper Cronk and Thurston in quitting Origin.

But Thurston immediately knocked the talk of an Allan Langer-style comeback on the head in Townsville on Wednesday.

"I'm no chance," Thurston said.

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

"We've got some exciting halves at the moment, Cameron Munster (Melbourne) and Ben Hunt (Dragons) are both on fire, Morgo (Michael Morgan) could get the job done and DCE (Daly Cherry-Evans) is another option that has played Origin as well.

"Kevvie (Walters, Queensland coach) hasn't contacted me at all and I don't think he would. My representative career is well and truly over, let me make that clear."

Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston in Queensland colours. Picture: Peter Wallis
Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston in Queensland colours. Picture: Peter Wallis

Thurston opened a bottle of wine to toast Smith's record-breaking representative career when his good mate phoned to tell him his decision early this week.

"I was shocked like everyone else, he'd well and truly made up his mind before he spoke to me," Thurston said.

"I got a bottle of nice red out of the cupboard, cracked that and had a couple of drinks when we were on the phone.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, I play on an edge and don't do anywhere near half the work of what he gets through.

"He's a once-in-a-generation type player, he's changed the way the nine role is played.

"Kicking out of dummy half, ball playing, running through the middle third, you didn't see it 15 years ago from hookers."

Andrew McCullough looms as a possible replacement for Cameron Smith. Photot: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Andrew McCullough looms as a possible replacement for Cameron Smith. Photot: AAP Image/Dave Hunt DAVE HUNT

Cowboys coach Paul Green endorsed his hooker Jake Granville as an option to replace Smith, who has missed just one Origin game since his debut in 2003.

But Thurston believes Brisbane dummy half Andrew McCullough is the logical choice given the Maroons will need a kicking option with the 'big three' gone.

"I'd probably have to say Andrew McCullough at this stage," Thurston said.

"He's played over 200 first grade games, he's got a kicking game as well and has played with a lot of the boys in that system.

"He obviously has a great relationship with Ben Hunt, if he's chosen at seven. That would be the likely choice."

Thurston also backed fellow Indigenous great Greg Inglis as the man to replace Smith as Queensland skipper.

Inglis and another captaincy candidate, Cowboys prop Matt Scott will square off against each other in Saturday's clash with Souths at 1300SMILES Stadium.

"The obvious choice would be Greg Inglis," Thurston said.

"He's had over 30 Origin games and from all reports, his leadership has really grown at South Sydney.

"The boys follow GI so having the 'c' next to his name, hopefully it makes him unstoppable."



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