St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Ben Hunt said the disappointing farewell season that Johnathan Thurston is enduring shouldn't take any of the sheen of his spectacular career.
Hunt, who will line up against the Thurston for the final time when the Dragons tackle the Cowboys at 1300Smiles Stadium on Saturday night, has nothing but admiration for what Thurston has achieved.
But that doesn't mean he isn't determined to add to that pain.
"Sadly for 'JT', 2018 hasn't gone to script. North Queensland won't make the finals, and he won't receive the fitting farewell he deserves," Hunt told this week's edition of Big League magazine.
"It's disappointing for him because he's such a champion of the game, and you want champions to go out on a high. At the same time, everyone knows how great of a player he is and what he's accomplished in his career.
"This season isn't going to have an impact on what people think of him as a player, and it certainly won't define his legacy.
"He's definitely in the top-three guys I've played with or against. He and Cameron Smith have been the best, while it was an amazing experience to say I played alongside Darren Lockyer at the Broncos.
"Sentiment aside, I've got to worry about the Dragons. We can't ignore the fact we've lost two games on the trot."
Hunt and the Dragons suffered a painful 20-16 loss to the Wests Tigers last weekend, a performance the Maroons and Test representative said was partly due to the fatigue and disruption caused by State of Origin football.
"We didn't play our best footy against the Tigers on Sunday, and we've got to fix our season up now. That starts against JT up in Townsville," he said.
"I don't want to use it as an excuse, but you've got to put our recent losses down to Origin.
"We've only had two sessions in the past month-and-a-bit where we've had everyone on deck.
"It changes the way we play games because you can't prepare as well as you should every week, you don't have as many sessions as you should, and as a result, everything hasn't been as crisp as it was earlier in the year."