Thurston's calmness under pressure shines through in Telstra Tracker
The Telstra Tracker technology used during last year's Holden State of Origin series highlighted the incredible ability of Queensland star Johnathan Thurston to calm himself down for a match-winning sideline conversion.
Thurston's clutch kick from near the right sideline, with his team down 1-0 in the series and with the scores locked at 16-16 with just over two minutes to go thanks to some Michael Morgan brilliance, won the game for the Maroons and set them on a path to a commanding series win in Brisbane in the decider.
At the back end of a gruelling 80 minutes in which Thurston's heart rate topped out at 195 beats per minute and was elevated just moments earlier, tracking technology shows the remarkable moments in which the Origin legend is able to shut out any distractions, calm himself down and reduce his heart rate to as low as 150 bpm as he sets himself for the kick.
There is a re-elevation to 170 as he steps back to his mark before a moment of calm as he studies his task and his heart rate drops from 170 to 161 before he steps in and sends the Steeden curling in past the right upright before allowing himself a fist pump for a job well done.
Speaking to NRL.com, 2014 premiership-winning coach and newly-installed Kiwis Test mentor Michael Maguire says a combination of experience and incredible fitness allows the genuine stars of the sport like Thurston to own those moments.
"By calming themselves down it allows greater focus; lowering the heart rate allows a player to see exactly what needs to be done without that fatigue factor," Maguire said.
"The great players have got a great ability to re-set themselves pretty quickly and lower the heart rate due to the physical fitness.
"Someone like Johnathan Thurston, how many clutch moments has he had throughout his career? Whether it's a field goal at the back end of a game, he's pulled off many of those over time but it's the physical fitness right at the back end of a game which we can look at now."
High-performance manager Troy Thomson, who was with South Sydney for their 2014 premiership success as well as working with the Maroons for much of their past 12 years of success and now the Kangaroos, said the numbers revealed by the tracking technology speak to the professionalism of our elite performers.
"It goes to show the tremendous athleticism of the players these days," Thomson said.
"It's a credit to the clubs and states he's involved in to have him at such a high fitness level so the ability to do that has a heap to do with fitness but there's also a mental aspect as well and John being the ultimate professional that he is, he's been in that situation many times before.
"It's a really good reflection for the general public out there, if you think about going for a run, how long it takes to get your heart rate back down?
"He's able to do it pretty quickly and in a really intense pressure situation, they're phenomenal athletes and their ability to do that is highlighted beautifully on this sort of technology."
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