Thurston non-commital on his NRL future

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    Johnathan Thurston has refused to give any assurances he’ll remain a North Queensland player beyond next season, with the champion playmaker, poised to potentially become the game’s highest-paid player.

    A week after his Australia and Queensland teammate Greg Inglis signed a new deal with South Sydney to become the NRL’s first million dollar-a-season man, Thurston said he is yet to decide where his future lies.

    The 29-year-old, two-time Dally M Medallist, is the biggest name off-contract at the end of the 2013 campaign, and with the new broadcast deal pumping a billion dollars into the game, Thurston’s in a strong position to name his price to potential suitors.

    The Cowboys have no fewer than 20 players who have deals that expire at the end of next year, including representative props Matt Scott and James Tamou while Matt Bowen, Brent Tate, Dallas Johnson and prolific winger Ashley Graham will also be off contract.

    This could significantly hamper their attempts to keep the former Canterbury playmaker, who joined the club in 2005, but Thurston, who’ll play for Australia against New Zealand on Saturday in Townsville, said on Wednesday he’s more interested in taking a holiday than sitting down with the Cowboys’ powerbrokers at the moment.

    “It’s still a long way away, my attention is all on this weekend,” Thurston said.

    “I like to deal with it differently to others. I have a holiday planned and I don’t don’t want to worry about it before then.

    “I just want to relax, enjoy my holiday.

    “I won’t have time to sort it out before I go away. When I get back that’s when I’ll sit down and work out with my manager and we’ll work out then what is best for my future.”

    Saturday’s international will see just one referee take control of the game but Thurston, who was seething at the officials following North Queensland’s controversial finals loss to Manly last month, is happy for the NRL to stick with two whistleblowers.

    However, he said more assistance is needed from the touch judges and less reliance on video referees.

    “Having the two refs is a good option, but there are little issues in the game with the video ref and the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

    “That’s what’s playing on everybody’s minds. Having two refs is great.

    “But what are our touch judges doing? They have to have more influence than just putting their flags up.

    “They need to be helping the refs. They wear mics, why can’t they tell the refs when a player is offside?

    “At the moment it is like they are a fan just watching the game.”

    All of Tim Sheens’ squad trained in searing heat on Wednesday morning, with the mercury nudging 33 degrees.

    Ben Te’o, who is the 18th man was fully involved, as was Tony Williams, who pulled up with a tight hamstring on Tuesday, but is expected to play on Saturday.

    Fullback Billy Slater also took part without a knee support for the first time this week.

    “The knee is fine and I am very happy with where it is,” he said.

    © AAP 2017