Thurston in doubt for 300th after heroic finish
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
The heroics of Johnathan Thurston's near sideline conversion to level the State of Origin series could come at a cost for the Cowboys with the superstar halfback no certainty to line up in his 300th Telstra Premiership appearance on Saturday.
A visibly uncomfortable Thurston was hampered and targeted with an ongoing shoulder injury throughout Origin II but soldiered on to help the Maroons steal a late win over NSW, with Dane Gagai's second try of the evening proving the catalyst for a fitting finale to Thurston's Origin career in Sydney.
After his streak of 36 consecutive State of Origin appearances came to an end in Game One, Thurston knew what he was in for upon his return to the side against a fired-up Blues pack that included back-rower Tyson Frizell running at the veteran all game.
The Cowboys will be sweating on Thurston's recovery over the next 48 hours in a bid to play against the Panthers in Townsville.
"Structurally it's fine but I got a whack there a couple of times so I need to get the swelling down and go from there," Thurston said post-game.
"Everyone plays through pain out there and I'm no different. It's a part of rugby league and this game. That's what Origin is about and I expect that. I'll get back to Townsville and assess. I've got the best medical staff available up there.
"It would be nice [to play on Saturday] and that's the plan, I trust my medical staff and my physio knows my body better than anyone."
Thurston played down the winning kick when asked and said it just came down to experience in the key moment.
"It's what dreams are made of… it's all locked up and you're in that position. It's all about going through your processes and I've been through it a thousand times before with goal kicking," Thurston said.
"And I've been in those situations before many times and sometimes I've missed and other times I've come up trumps.
"Tonight I came up trumps."
Maroons skipper Cameron Smith saw the conversion in a different light, knowing Thurston would have no issues putting the visitors in front in the clutch moment.
"We scored that try to level it up and I couldn't think of anyone else I'd want to take the kick. I just said to him 'you're the best, just go and kick it' and he did," Smith said.
"The play that got us the win was that goal kick, I couldn't hear myself think and I was back waiting on the tryline for the kick-off.
"He's a special player and we all know that."
With the 34-year-old having announced his retirement from representative football at the end of the season, the countdown is on for his final Origin match and Thurston has no regrets over the decision – despite being at the peak of his game.
"I'm at peace with the decision I've made so I have no worries about that," Thurston said.
"I know my career is coming to an end and it's about enjoying training and behind around the boys.
"I've enjoyed the camp this week and to top it off with a win and head back to Queensland in a decider – it doesn't get any bigger.
"I'm extremely proud of the boys and the efforts they put in tonight. Obviously behind the eight ball at half time but we spoke about hanging in there and not letting your teammate down.
"I'm trying to stay in the moment and love it while it lasts."