Thurston throws support behind Hodges
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston knows all too well what Grand Finals mean to a player, so it is only fitting that he has thrown his support behind good mate and Broncos legend Justin Hodges.
Hodges has no choice but to plead not guilty to a Grade 1 Dangerous Throw charge for a 57th minute incident involving Roosters forward Aidan Guerra.
Tuesday night's outcome will decide whether the 33-year-old's career is already over or will finish on the game's biggest stage on Sunday, and Thurston has become the latest to throw support behind his representative teammate.
"Very close mate obviously and it would be tragic circumstances for him to finish his career by missing the GF," Thurston said.
"Players have missed GFs before due to being suspended and hopefully, as a close mate, he gets off.
"We want to play the Broncos at their strongest outfit, and with him in the team they're the strongest team there.
"I've sent him a text letting him know, so hopefully we'll be seeing him out there.
"But that's out of my control and out of our control, and what's best for us at the moment is to get our preparation right and make sure that we don't let the week become a distraction."
The Cowboys star has also made headlines after becoming the first player in NRL history to claim four Dally M Medals after an 11-point victory over second-placed trio Michael Ennis, Ben Hunt and Aaron Woods.
But Thurston, who was visibly emotional after winning the honour, says it did not take long to immerse himself fully in this week's task at hand.
"I've pretty much shifted my mind now to Sunday's attention and preparing the best I can for the boys and not letting them down in that area," he said on Tuesday.
"That's where my focus is now. Last night was great, I'm very humbled and proud to have received the award, but now is about getting the job done on Sunday and that's the mindset of the boys.
"It's always nice to receive those individual accolades, but we play a team sport and these are the moments that we play the game and get up every morning for – to play a Grand Final."
As the main man in North Queensland for over a decade, Grand Final victory in a Cowboys uniform is the one thing that eludes the master playmaker, who says "it still burns and I don't want to talk about it".
The day can either make or break a player's heart and is something they remember forever – something Thurston thinks Hodges deserves to experience it one last time.