Thurston backs away from backing up
Aidan Guerra felt compelled to back up for the Roosters following his Origin debut but Maroons superstar Johnathan Thurston believes the days of playing twice in a matter of days should be confined to the past.
It is a badge worn with pride that Origin players not only play again after taking part in the most demanding rugby league arena but perform well for their clubs, a feat Thurston says is becoming more and more unrealistic.
With continued debate around the most suitable scheduling options to maximise the Origin juggernaut without diminishing the NRL product, Thurston backed an idea mooted by legendary coach Wayne Bennett but said the obligation to back up needs to be looked at.
"After being a part of Game One and with how much interest it has brought not only across the nation but around the world, to be backing up for our clubs is starting to get borderline ridiculous," Thurston said.
"I know all the boys pride themselves on backing up for their club, I know I do personally. That's just been passed down by 'Pet' (Petero Civoniceva) and 'Locky' (Darren Lockyer) and those guys about having pride in your performance when backing up for your club and I just don't know why we have to do it. We've got the power brokers of the game, surely we can come up with a better system.
"I've never been a part of such a brutal game before in Origin [as Game One]. No doubt that was one of the fastest games I've been a part of and the most brutal and when you've got to back up for your club a few days later, it's tough work.
"Everyone has to do it, surely there's a better solution we can come up with."
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Guerra played 34 minutes off the bench in his maiden Origin appearance two weeks ago and had three days to get his body right to play the Raiders on Saturday night, where he played 52 minutes before leaving the field.
The rangy back-rower said the mental battle to back up was the toughest aspect of his post-Origin experience but never once entertained the thought of not playing for his club.
"I wouldn't have even wanted to hear that," Guerra said when asked whether Roosters coach Trent Robinson even mentioned sitting the game out. "The difference between the respect that Origin players have is the fact that they do play, they back up and play and it's a non-negotiable sort of thing.
"You saw how hard 'Smithy' (Maroons and Storm captain Cameron Smith) worked to get back for his three-day turnaround and that's just how he's gained so much respect over the years.
"Just pushing through that barrier of putting how you feel behind you and knowing you had to front up and not let your teammates down, the ones that you rely on and they rely on you to be at your best every weekend.
"I just went out there with the mentality that I was going to try to not let them down and that lasted less than 60 minutes but when I was out there I was giving it my all."
Although Guerra was given the best possible indoctrination into how Origin football is different from current and past Maroons greats in camp prior to Game One, he said that the actuality of the contest managed to exceed expectations.
"They told me what to expect and it was definitely a little bit more than that," Guerra told NRL.com.
"Just the intensity of everything, from running out and hearing the crowd and that set the tone and then when I got out there in the game every contest was 100 per cent. You don't get that week to week and I think there's a reason for that because it would be just too hard to maintain that intensity week to week.
"You didn't really have time to dwell on how you felt [the day after the game], I had three days before I had to back up and play for the Roosters. It was more so just reflection on the whole experience from the moment I got the phone call to the moment I come off the field after the 80 minutes.
"It was more of a mental comedown than a physical one."