JT rules out All Stars return as he prepares for Cowboys farewell
Johnathan Thurston is confident he can retire, knowing the future of his beloved Cowboys is safe in the hands of its mature and up-and-coming players.
And he will be retiring after next weekend's trip to the Gold Coast, declaring on Tuesday that he definitely would not be dusting off his boots one more time next February for the Harvey Norman Indigenous All Stars clash with the New Zealand Maori in Melbourne despite calls from the likes of Preston Campbell for him to make one last cameo rather than potentially finishing his glittering career with the wooden spoon.
"It would be tempting, but I'm done and dusted. I've really been humbled by the clubs I've played against over the last month or so, it's been a very humbling experience and much respect to the clubs that have shown that.
"Next Saturday will certainly be my last game."
Thurston believes he can rest assured in retirement that the club's future is in safe hands with 2018 rookies Jake Clifford and Enari Tuala among a host of young guns who can take the club back to the finals.
"I think we've got a really good playing group, Michael Morgan, Matt Scott and Gavin Cooper will be around," Thurston said.
"Jake Clifford, Enari Tuala, Gideon Gela-Mosby, all these boys that have been on the cusp that are starting to have a taste of first grade over the course of the year, they're the future of the club, Jase as well there.
"There's going to be a lot of success in the future."
It will be a high-pressure game against Parramatta on Friday - with Matt Scott will become the third Cowboy to play 250 matches for the club, Thurston will be making his last appearance in Townsville and the losing team is all but certain to finish last on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
"We've got enough experienced blokes here to make sure we keep a lid on it, there's going to be a lot of emotion from outside the walls, but we're very experienced here," Thurston said.
"Matt Scott will become the first forward to play 250 games for the club, which is a massive milestone and Jake Granville 100 games so it's going to be a big night."
Thurston paid credit to Scott's toughness, particularly through persistent injuries the Maroons and Kangaroos prop has battled in recent seasons.
Scott was made co-captain in 2011, and ever since then Thurston has been glad to have him in the middle of the field, leading by example.
"It's a huge achievement, considering what he's put his body through and playing in the toughest position on the field in the front row for the many years that he has it's a massive achievement," Thurston said.
"We complement each other extremely well, he's a straight shooter, just tells it how it is and that's what you want and that's what the playing group wants, he does a lot of talk behind the scenes and does a lot of individual work with players as well."