Fifita, Campbell call for JT to play in All Stars match
Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita will cherish his final clash opposite Johnathan Thurston on Saturday night but would like one last opportunity to play alongside the champion halfback if he chose to finish his career in next year's NRL All Stars clash.
The NRL confirmed on Tuesday the All Stars fixture would return in February as part of the pre-season schedule after a year hiatus with the World Cup taking place last off-season, prompting calls for Thurston to finish his career on the right note.
North Queensland have struggled in 2018 - last on the Telstra Premiership ladder with three rounds remaining - leading many Telstra Premiership observers to declare Thurston does not deserve to bow out with the dreaded wooden spoon.
Fifita warmed to the thought of Thurston finishing up in Indigenous colours but otherwise suggested he should be given a spot on the coaching staff if he wasn't interested in playing one more match in 2019.
"It's unlimited interchanges, I wouldn't mind it," Fifita said.
"You'd be still looking fit as ever if he had to come into it. The ball's in his court if he wanted to play.
"I think we were talking about it earlier in the year and I said if you can't play will you be coach? I'd love to have Loz [current Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley] no matter what, I'd back Loz for our people but it's handy when you've got JT up your sleeve to help you out.
"It's him, Sam Thaiday ... they've been in the game for that long I reckon they could run our team, especially for an All Stars match, it would be good.
"It's the ultimate respect for JT, kind of honoured I get to cherish one of his last few games with him."
The founder of the NRL All Stars concept, Preston Campbell, helped launch a partnership between the Cronulla Sharks and Deadly Choices in an announcement at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Tuesday, and told NRL.com he was confident Thurston would consider the idea.
"Personally for me as a footy fan, I'd love to see him there but it's one of those things," Campbell said.
"I think JT has done enough, obviously if he'd love to play there you'd make some space for him. With unlimited interchange, he wouldn't have to do any training, just strap the boots on and make an appearance.
"If you asked him and give him that opportunity he would surely have a good think about it. I understand being an ex-player how exhausting it is after a decade-plus playing though, so he might not want to.
"But definitely to give him a big send-off in that arena and in front of the Indigenous community would be huge for the game."
Meanwhile, Fifita hopes an end-of-season Test featuring Tonga will be confirmed soon.
The Tongan prop vented his frustrations around the lack of information with the international scheduling for October and November.
New Zealand will play England in a three-match series in the UK but the Kangaroos are yet to confirm their opponents despite calls for Fifita's Tongan outfit to challenge the world champions.
"We're sitting here but nothing's happening," Fifita said.
"I want to plan to go on holidays with my family, that's the big thing I'm frustrated [with]. We've tried talking to the International Federation. It's all about the top three teams [Australia, New Zealand and England] at the moment. I think we're just playing second fiddle as a second-tier team does.
"We'd like a Test match, especially off of last year and everyone seen the Pacific Test, for fan wise and the game to international game to grow.
"We are sacrificing a lot of time, effort and pay cuts to try and build our game. We just need it now."