JT pushes through 2017 workload
Johnathan Thurston deemed his appearance at the NRL All Stars a non-negotiable despite the Queensland superstar facing a potential 39-game workload this year.
On the same day Jarryd Hayne and Joey Leilua became the latest withdrawals from Friday's exhibition match in Newcastle, Thurston flew back from the Auckland Nines to join his Indigenous All Stars teammates in camp in Sydney.
With the World Cup final set for December 2, Thurston is facing 10 months of near non-stop football.
After the All Stars, he is likely to play North Queensland's final trial against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown the following week.
He will be available for 23 of the Cowboys' regular season games on top of potentially three State of Origin matches, four finals games, a six-game World Cup campaign as well as the mid-year trans-Tasman Test.
While it's an unlikely scenario that his year will pan out like that, the potential 39 games on his schedule highlights his bulging workload.
Thurston said there was no way he would miss the All Stars match and it had helped him to connect with his indigenous roots and become a better person.
"I understand it's a hectic pre-season schedule," Thurston said.
"The stuff we do throughout the week in the community far outweighs the game.
"The power of sport and rugby league is to create social change - that's what this game does."
Thurston revealed he would have no problem being asked to be rested from games by the Cowboys during the year and would manage his training load carefully.
"I'll talk to the coaching staff about it," Thurston said.
"My career's nearly at an end so I don't want to miss any games.
"But if I'm mentally and physically fatigued and it's right for my body, I'll have no problems sitting out a game.
The 33-year-old will step away from representative football at the end of the year however left the door open to play on in 2019.
He said he would stick to his decision to walk away from his Queensland and Australian commitments at the end of 2017, but hinted he could go back on his planned retirement at the end of 2018.
"I'm comfortable with that decision (to retire from rep football after this year) but who knows about next year," Thurston said.
"Not playing representative football, the body might be feeling a lot better than it has the last 10-15 years. I might go around again."
Hayne, Leiulua and Sosaia Feki all pulled out of the World All Stars team on Monday, replaced by Jarrod Croker, Gerard Beale and Chris McQueen.